Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats because it contains methylxanthines: theobromine and caffeine. The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more theobromine there is. The following is a list of the treats containing the most to least amounts of theobromine:
- Baking chocolate is the worst for pets, followed by:
- Semi-sweet and dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Chocolate-flavored cakes or cookies
Theobromine can cause the following reactions in pets:
- Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms
- Death, in severe cases
Use this helpful tool to determine what level of danger your pet may be in after consuming different types and amounts of chocolate and the associated danger. For example, if your pet has consumed a very small amount of chocolate, it may be that the fat and sugar in the chocolate creates an unpleasant but temporary upset stomach, but poses no real danger. Keep in mind that the smaller your pet is, the less chocolate it takes to create a toxicity issue.
Finally, pet parents should be aware that some chocolate-containing products may contain other toxins, such as macadamia nuts, raisins, coffee/espresso beans or xylitol (an artificial sweetener).
Regardless, if your pet consumes chocolate and you have any concerns, please contact ReadiVet or an emergency clinic as soon as possible.
What about other sweets?
In addition to the dangers associated with the toxicity of chocolate, the sudden consumption of a large quantity of sweets of any kind (a cupcake, bag of candy) may create problems for your pet. Pancreatitis is caused by the sudden intake of a large amount of calories, especially the fat contained in many “human treats.” Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are just the beginning of this issue and can potentially lead to a more severe and potentially lethal disease.
Please contact ReadiVet at any time if you have questions, or seek help from the ASPCA Poison Control Center or the Pet Poison Helpline (Be aware that each of these may charge $59-65 to consult with them via phone; however, the websites contain good information).