The Glenville Veterinary Clinic

Trick-or-treat! Your pet and chocolate exposure

Halloween brings out the ghosts, goblins, and lots and lots of chocolate!  Chocolate may be America’s favorite sweet, especially around the fall and winter holidays.  Although chocolate is delicious to us, it can be dangerous to our pets.  What is it that causes this confection to be a problem for our animals?

There are multiple ways that chocolate can be problematic for our pets.  The richness of chocolate can cause irritation to the stomach.  The fat and calories can cause a disease called pancreatitis, which can result in severe pain in the abdomen and stomach upset.  In large doses, chocolate can actually be deadly.

The substance in chocolate which is toxic to our pets is theobromine.   Theobromine is a stimulant.  It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, rapid heart rates, heart arrhythmias, and, in severe cases, death.

The amount of theobromine that an animal eats will determine how sick it may become.  Theobromine is found in the highest doses in concentrated products like bakers’ chocolate.  Bakers’ chocolate contains the most theobromine, followed by semisweet, and then milk chocolate.  Goods that are just flavored with chocolate (like cookies and brownies) have the least amount of theobromine.

If your pet eats chocolate, it’s important to tell your vet what type of chocolate and how much was consumed, as well as what time it was eaten.   Mild cases may not require any treatment at all.  However, severe cases of chocolate toxicity can require hospitalization.

Have fun this Halloween!  But remember – keep the chocolate away from our furry friends.

 

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