Love is in the air, and so is the smell of chocolate! Although we may love to indulge in this treat around the holiday, we need to ensure our pets do not share that joy.
The active ingredient in chocolate is called theobromine, related to caffeine. It is this ingredient that can lead to major problems in our pets when consumed. Baking chocolate is the worst for our pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolates, milk chocolate, and lastly chocolate flavored human snacks. Small ingestions can lead to gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain and decreased appetite. However, when consumed in larger amounts, or even a small amount depending on the type of chocolate eaten (mainly baking chocolate), nervous system and cardiac signs can result! Symptoms such as restlessness, twitching or muscle tremors, panting, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and even seizures can result.
If you pet does ingest any form of chocolate, making your pet vomit could be enough based on the time of ingestion and the type of chocolate consumed. Your local veterinary office or emergency clinic can make further recommendations to help you know how and where to induce vomiting, and if more extensive therapy is needed. In cases where a pet is showing signs of chocolate toxicity, treatment should be started and animal poison control contacted for guidance with further care. If you have any concern about a recent chocolate ingestion over this holiday season please contact you veterinary hospital and/or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426 4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.