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Chocolatey Facts Every Pet Owner Should Know

Most pet owners know that chocolate is a no-go, but what makes this sweet treat so unsafe for our pets? Chocolate contains two chemicals that are toxic to both cats and dogs: caffeine and a very similar but more dangerous substance known as theobromine. After a pet eats chocolate, these are both quickly absorbed from the gut and affect the muscles, brain, and heart.

How much chocolate is too much?

The amount of caffeine and theobromine varies between chocolate products. Dark chocolates contain the most per ounce, so ingredients like cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate tend to be the most toxic. Although milk chocolate and white chocolate have less caffeine and theobromine than darker products, they still aren’t safe for your pet, especially if ingested in large quantities.  

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

The symptoms depend on the dose of these toxic compounds your pet gets—so in other words, they depend on how much and what type of chocolate your pet eats. Low doses cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, panting, and increased thirst. As the dose increases, symptoms worsen to include racing heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, high body temperature, tremors, and seizures. With really serious toxic doses, coma and even death are possible.

My pet ate chocolate—what should I do?

If your pet has eaten chocolate, don’t panic. If possible, figure out the type and amount of chocolate your pet ate, then contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 right away. 

GROW is designed to be a resource and an entertaining publication for the whole family, by utilizing real and authentic family life experiences to challenge, encourage, inspire, and GROW families.

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