Just like people, many pets like chocolate. Eating chocolate or any other sweets that contain chocolate can be very dangerous for pets. Chocolate contains the substance theobromine which is toxic to pets.
Dogs are more sensitive to theobromine than cats. This is probably because cats show less interest in sweets. A small dose of theobromine can be toxic to dogs; more precisely, if they eat a small amount of chocolate, they can be poisoned. Small breeds and young dogs have a larger problem when it comes to chocolate as they don’t tolerate even small amounts.
The basic ingredient in chocolate is cocoa. Therefore, chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa (dark or baking chocolate) contains more theobromine than milk chocolate and white chocolate. This doesn’t mean owners can give their pet milk and white chocolate because theobromine is harmful in small amounts. Dogs and cats are sensitive to theobromine because, unlike people, they can’t break down (metabolize) and excrete theobromine quickly like humans can.
Theobromine affects the central nervous system, the digestive system, accelerates heart rate, and leads to increased blood pressure., The owner may notice that the animal is upset, nervous, and has difficulty breathing after consuming a larger amount of chocolate. It may drink water often, vomit, and have diarrhea. In severe cases, it can cause muscle trembling, loss of coordination, coma, or sudden death from a heart attack. Symptoms may occur within a short period of time and sometimes after a few days. It all depends on the animal itself, as well as the type and amount of chocolate the pet has eaten.
If the owner notices his pet has eaten chocolate, he should inform the veterinarian of the type of chocolate and the amount eaten so the appropriate treatment can be provided.
A veterinarian can prevent theobromine from getting into the bloodstream if the owner brings his pet in quickly after eating chocolate. This means a period from 4 to 8 hours after ingestion. A veterinarian can give the pet medication to induce vomiting to expel the chocolate from the body or a medication that will bind to the theobromine to be excreted in the feces.
A specific antidote for chocolate poisoning doesn’t exist, so in severe poisoning, the therapy depends on the symptoms being exhibited. A veterinarian performs do blood tests to determine the theobromine concentration.
The most important thing the owner should know is how dangerous chocolate is to his pet and to always keep chocolate in a place where the pet can not reach it.