Dog eating chocolates from heart shaped Valentine's boxWorldwide, people share a fondness for chocolate that spans a lifetime. From birthday cupcakes to fancy souffles, chocolate (and its strong temptations) surrounds and connects us. However, the prevalence of chocolate throughout the year – from Valentine’s Day to Halloween – creates harmful opportunities for curious pets, and should be never be shared.

Whether your pet has gotten into your secret stash, or you just want to be prepared for the future, knowing why chocolate is bad for pets, what to look for, and how to help, will not only save you time, but may even save your pet’s life.

So, Why is Chocolate Bad for Pets?

It seems unfair that something so delicious to people is strictly off-limits to pets, but the chemical compounds found in chocolate are simply toxic to animals.

Theobromine, the plant alkaloid found in the tropical cacao tree, is responsible for serious, even life-threatening symptoms when consumed by animals. Humans metabolize theobromine differently, making our reaction to the compound much different for us than it is for our four-legged friends.

The theobromine levels in chocolate will vary by type; baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst offenders, with high levels of theobromine present. Milk chocolate sits at the middle level, and white chocolate has the lowest levels. But it’s not just the level of theobromine that is a threat, but the quantity of chocolate consumed, too.

Chocolate Dangers and Symptoms

If you don’t see any evidence of your pet turning into a rogue chocolatier (such as shredded wrappers littering the floor), but suspect that he or she may have gotten into your stash anyway, pay close attention for these tell-tale signs:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Seizure
  • Collapse
  • If your pet is exhibiting these behaviors, or if you just know that your pet has gotten into your supply, call us immediately. Your pet may require emergency care and observation while flushing theobromine (not to mention the high amounts of fat and sugar) out of his or her system. This interactive chart may help you determine the effects related to how much your pet potentially ate.

    What’s In Store For Your Pet

    Unfortunately, there is no antidote for theobromine exposure. However, depending on your pet’s levels and symptoms, we may:

  • Induce vomiting
  • Wash out the stomach
  • Feed activated charcoal to absorb traces of theobromine
  • Inject intravenous fluids
  • Administer blood pressure medication to control heart rate, blood pressure, and seizures
  • Sharing A Different Sweetness

    Finding out that your pet got into some chocolate can be a true nightmare but, in many cases, exposure can be managed and non-fatal. While prevention is a critical key in keeping your pet safe from chocolate dangers, catching the signs early can save your pet’s life.

    Even though we love to share chocolate goodies with those we love, your pet’s special treat could be an extra long walk, additional couch cuddles, or your own DIY pet treats.