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Halloween: Chocolate Toxicity

Halloween is just around the corner which means there will be an abundance of trick-or-treaters combing the neighborhood for candy corns and chocolatey treats. Do you know who else is sneaking around for treats? Your pets as they have no idea that chocolate is toxic. Here are important tips that you want to know to avoid chocolate toxicity during this Halloween season.

What Makes Chocolate Dangerous?

Pets metabolize chocolate much slower than humans which is why it causes health issues. The primary ingredient you want to be aware of is theobromine which is an alkaloid causing chemical stimulant found in the cacao plant. You also want your pet to avoid caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of theobromine and caffeine your dog will ingest.

  • Unsweetened Chocolate / 100% cacao / One-ounce Baker’s chocolate 376mg
  • Dark Chocolate / 70-85% cacao / One ounce 228 mg
  • Dark Chocolate / 60-69% cacao / One ounce 179mg
  • Dark Chocolate / 45-59% cacao / One ounce 140mg
  • Semi-sweet Chocolate / One ounce 138 mg
  • Sweet Chocolate / One ounce 121mg
  • Chocolate Cookies / One ounce 101mg
  • Chocolate / 50g / Contains 19 mg of caffeine

 

As there are different levels of theobromine and caffeine in chocolate, you want to be sure that you do not expose your pet to any of it as once you introduce the taste to their palettes, they will crave it much like humans. For a large dog, ingesting a small amount of chocolate will likely cause vomiting and upset stomach, but the same amount in a small dog means toxicity and death.

 

Experts note that even 20 milligrams of theobromine will cause hyperactivity and gastrointestinal complications like diarrhea and vomiting. At 40 milligrams, pets will experience cardiovascular symptoms like high blood pressure and elevated heart rate. At 60 milligrams, pets experience neurological symptoms like seizures and tremors. Over 100 milligrams, fatalities will occur.

 

What Are The Symptoms Of Chocolate Toxicity?

 

If you notice that your pet has eaten any chocolate, you need to monitor for clinical signs the next several hours after consumption. Also keep in mind that symptoms will last for days. Common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, advanced heart rate, restlessness, thirst, panting, muscle reflex, tremors, seizures, low blood pressure, signs of cardiac arrest, and coma.

 

What Should I Do If My Pet Eats Chocolate?

 

At any point your dog or cat shows any symptoms, it is best to contact a vet for a consultation. You also have access to the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680. Once eaten, it is important to get your pet medical treatment to remove the theobromine from the system. Treatment will vary based on how much pure cacao your pet ate. If early on, using charcoal to induce vomiting is the best option as it blocks the digestion of theobromine. It may also be necessary to repeat this process since the urinary tract can reabsorb theobromine. For more advanced cases, medications are critical for beta-blockers to slow the heart rate and erratic breathing patterns.

Chocolate will disrupt your dog’s digestive tract which is why it is a good idea to use Complete Dog Prebiotics and Probiotics for stomach sensitivity symptoms. It is also helpful, along with Daily Digestive Enzymes For Pets, when charcoal and medications are used by the veterinarian.

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