Chocolate is derived from the beans of cacao fruit trees. There are two main components in these beans which can be toxic to pets – theobromine and caffeine, however the caffeine content present in chocolate is much smaller than theobromine and is generally not a problem to pets. Both dogs and cats commonly have a “sweet tooth” and can be attracted to chocolate, but dogs are most commonly affected by chocolate toxicity due to their olfactory system’s ability to sniff it out.
Of the 4 main types of chocolate, white chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine, followed by milk chocolate and then semi-sweet chocolate. Unsweetened or baker’s chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine at 8-10 times the rate present in milk chocolate.
If you suspect your pet has eaten more than a few stray chocolate chips that fell on the floor, seek the advice of your veterinarian. The signs commonly seen within 12 hours of ingestion of a toxic amount of chocolate are:
- excessive thirst/urination
- muscle spasms
There is no specific antidote for chocolate toxicity, but your vet is able to administer supportive medical treatments including intravenous fluid therapy, induce vomiting, charcoal therapy, anti-seizure and cardiac medications.
Potential chocolate poisoning is an emergency situation for your pet; please call your veterinarian immediately to ensure your pet’s well-being.