With Valentine’s Day coming up, it is time to remind everyone that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. Both dogs and cats have a lower tolerance for one of the common components in chocolate. In fact, cats have an even lower tolerance, but they don't seem to have the same sweet tooth as dogs.
The component in chocolate that causes problems is called 'theobromine'. In people, it is readily digested, but in animals it is much slower and the side effects can last for up to 72 hours. There is also caffeine in chocolate, which can have bad effects on animals.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in animals can include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart problems, and possible death in severe cases.
Medical treatment for chocolate toxicity includes making the animal vomit within two hours of ingestion, providing coating for the stomach, intravenous fluids, and monitoring for seizures or heart problems.
The amount of toxicity depends on the type and quantity of chocolate that is eaten. Milk chocolate is the least dangerous. Semisweet chocolate and dark chocolate can cause more problems. And, baker’s chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder is the most concentrated. Meaning, chocolate brownies are the worst!
If your pet has accidentally eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately. Tell them how much your dog weighs, how much and what kind of chocolate it ate, and when it ate it. This will be important information for them to make recommendations on what needs to be done.
The best thing to do is to keep your Valentine’s Day candies up and out of reach of your pets. Everyone likes chocolate, but it is a sweet that is meant for you, and is not good for your dog.