Chocolate Poisoning: Symptoms and What to Do

While chocolate is a tasty treat for human beings, it is the exact opposite for dogs and cats. Chocolate is toxic to our furry friends, and if ingested, it can cause a variety of health issues ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, coma and death. As an animal hospital near Minnetonka, we have helped many pet owners like you when their pet has accidentally eaten chocolate. Here are some of the warning signs that your pet has ingested chocolate.

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs and Cats?

Chocolate comes from the roasted seeds of the plant Theobroma cacao. The seeds contain caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to animals like dogs and cats. While dogs tend to get into chocolate more often than cats (probably because dogs tend to be more curious about “people food”), chocolate toxicity can negatively affect both types of animals. If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, call our animal hospital for an appointment as quickly as possible.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can sometimes vary from animal to animal, but there are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for no matter what kind of pet you have:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increase in body temperature and reflex responses
  • Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Overall weakness

These are only a few signs of chocolate poisoning. The amount and type of chocolate that your pet ingests also play a part in the severity of the poisoning and its symptoms. Baking chocolate has the highest concentrations of caffeine and theobromine. Milk chocolate has the lowest concentrations and semi-sweet chocolate falls somewhere in between. Not only is the chocolate itself a potential threat, but the foil and wrappers can cause problems as well, like intestinal blockage and discomfort.

What to Do if You Suspect Chocolate Poisoning

If you suspect that your dog or cat has ingested chocolate, or if they are already showing signs of chocolate toxicity, please call our animal hospital right away to get an appointment. If it is after hours, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 for assistance or take your pet to Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service in Eden Prairie at 952-942-8272.

If you bring your pet to us, we will do a thorough exam and we may run several other tests, including a urinalysis and a blood chemistry test. Activated charcoal may be administered to slow further chocolate absorption, and we may administer IV fluids as well to help flush the toxins out of your pet. Your pet will also be given fluids. You will also probably be advised to keep your pet on a bland diet for the next several days until any gastrointestinal upset has resolved.

Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep chocolate and all other toxic items out of reach and away from curious critters!

For more information on our animal hospital near Minnetonka, call Excelsior Animal Hospital at 952-474-1106 or Contact Us.

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