Why is Chocolate Dangerous to Pets?
Around holidays such as Valentine’s Day, it is important for animal guardians to be careful about possible chocolate ingestion by their pets. Chocolate toxicity is a common emergency around the holidays and can be a serious, health-threatening condition. The ingredients in chocolate contain what are known as methylxanthines, which are caffeine-like compounds that can cause serious health threatening consequences. The specific ingredient theobromine is the one we are most concerned about, and which pets have a hard time metabolizing even in small amounts.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity may include initial nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, followed by cardiac symptoms including arrhythmias and even seizures. Bleeding and death may even occur. Treatment includes induction of vomiting, as well as supportive IV fluid therapy. If seizures occur, Valium and Phenobarbital may need to be given. Antiarrthythmic drugs are also indicated for any heart arrhythmias. Since theobromine is eliminated very slowly in pets, treatment may need to be continued for up to a few days after ingestion. Prognosis is usually good, as long as treatment is performed within a short period of ingestion.