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Chocolate Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

Although you’re probably already aware that chocolate is highly toxic to cats and dogs, it never hurts to have a little refresher! Read on as your Southeast Denver veterinarian answers the basic questions about chocolate poisoning in pets.

Why Is Chocolate Toxic to Pets?

There are two ingredients in chocolate that make it harmful. One is caffeine, which is why other caffeinated products like coffee or tea can also be hazardous to a pet’s health. The other is theobromine, a chemical compound derived from the cacao bean. Baking chocolate has the highest levels of theobromine and caffeine, making it the most dangerous, but other types like dark, milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate are poisonous as well.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

A cat or dog will most likely first demonstrate an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, increase in body temperature, and stiffness. Shortly afterwards, vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure could occur. If left untreated, seizures, stupor, cardiac failure, and even coma can result depending on the level of poisoning.

What Should I Do if My Pet Ingests Chocolate?

As soon as you witness or even suspect your pet has consumed chocolate or something containing chocolate, call your veterinarian while you’re taking your pet to your local animal hospital. Even if you think your pet has only ingested a small amount, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If poisoning has occurred, your veterinarian will take steps to rid the body of the chocolate’s toxins. Fluid therapy, dietary changes, and other procedures may be necessary.

Are There Ways to Prevent Chocolate Poisoning?

The best way to prevent episodes of chocolate poisoning is to stay vigilant about keeping chocolate treats and other products containing chocolate out of your pet’s reach. Put them in sealed containers inside locked cabinets, and never let chocolate items lying around on the kitchen table or countertops.

Talk to your Southeast Denver veterinary professional for more information about chocolate and its effects on the bodies of dogs and cats. Don’t hesitate to ask about other smart ways to keep chocolate and other harmful goodies out of your pet’s reach!

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