Tag Archives: valentine’s day

Valentine’s Chocolate is for You, Not Your Pet!

Happy Valentine’s Day from AHDC! Love is in the air, especially the love for chocolate. Although we love chocolate (especially with Hershey so close!), it is important to keep in mind that our dogs and cats may love it, too. Unfortunately, chocolate is toxic to pets. Chocolate is a mixture of cocoa beans and cocoa butter that contain theobromine and caffeine. Chocolate also contains a high amount of fat. Unfortunately, dogs are sensitive to the effects of these three components. Depending on the dose of theobromine and caffeine, chocolate ingestion can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, and potentially death. Other effects of an overdose include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, and lethargy. The amount of toxin present in chocolate depends varies with the type. The general rule is the more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate is the most toxic due to it containing almost seven times more theobromine as milk chocolate. White chocolate (a combination of cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat, milk solids, and flavorings without cocoa beans) contains negligible amounts. An ingestion of the large amount of fat in chocolate can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Signs of pancreatitis are vomiting, diarrhea, decreased/no appetite and usually needs IV fluids and supportive care in the hospital. What to do: call your veterinarian with the approximate amount of chocolate, type of chocolate and weight of your pet. Your veterinarian should be able to calculate whether your pet ingested a toxic amount. If you pet accidentally ingested a toxic amount, your veterinarian may need to make your pet vomit and administer charcoal to prevent further absorption. Please, do not induce vomiting without the direction of a veterinarian as this can be dangerous. More severe cases of ingestion may need IV fluid therapy to flush the body of the toxins. The caffeine in chocolate can be reabsorbed across the urinary bladder wall, therefore hospitalization allows for frequent walks by the veterinary staff. It takes nearly 4 days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog’s system. If the chocolate was only just eaten, it is possible to induce vomiting; otherwise, hospitalization and support may be needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system depending on the dose ingested. – Dr. Fletcher