Valentine’s Day With Pets
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and you know what that means, chocolate! Valentine’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating your significant other, which has resulted in one of the biggest chocolate-purchasing holidays in America. Nothing says “I love you” like a huge box of chocolates. With all of this chocolate in the house, it’s important to remember not everyone likes chocolate, including your dogs and cats. Well, they may like the taste, but their body definitely won’t appreciate it. It is well known in the pet community that chocolate is toxic to pets, but we would like to explain the “why” behind this fact.
Chocolate’s main ingredient is cacao, from the cocoa bean. Cacao has two compounds that are toxic to pets; theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine is cause of many negative reactions when dogs or cats consume chocolate, stimulating the nervous and cardiovascular systems adversely and compromising the gastrointestinal tract. Caffeine is not tolerated well by their bodies either but is less of a concern when compared to the theobromine. Levels of theobromine vary depending on the type of chocolate consumed, so it’s important to know exactly what your pet ate in emergency situations. Here is a list of some common chocolate products and their levels of theobromine.
Dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa): 228 mg per 1 oz
Semisweet chocolate chips: 138mg per 1 oz
Cocoa powder: 142mg per tablespoon
Unsweetened baking chocolate: 376mg per 1oz
Milk Chocolate: 44-64mg per 1 oz
Dogs and cats can show a large variety of symptoms when it comes to chocolate toxicity, so it is important to keep them safe by never leaving chocolate out where it is easily accessible. If you suspect they may have gotten into your chocolate stash, here are a few symptoms to look for: hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, or hypothermia. Dogs and cats metabolize theobromine slower than humans, so it’s possible that the symptoms can be delayed. These symptoms can last up to 72 hours after chocolate ingestion.
If you find that your pet has ingested chocolate, you will need to act fast. The first thing you need to do is find out how much chocolate and exactly which kind. This information will be needed to determine the treatment, if any, that is needed. The next step is to call the pet poison helpline at 800-213-6680. These medical professionals, with a nominal fee, will be able to determine what steps need to be taken and will let you know if your pet needs to be seen by a medical professional. If their recommendation is to have your pet seen, your next step is to call your veterinarian. The pet poison hotline will give you a reference number that the veterinarian will use to help determine the best treatment for your dog or cat.
Prevention is the best defense against chocolate toxicity, so keep those treats locked away from your furry friends. However, accidents happen, and if your pet gets into your Valentine’s Day gift, hopefully this article will provide you with the information needed to quickly manage the situation.