Pet Poison: Chocolate

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Pet Poison: Chocolate

Dr. Marc is a veterinarian guest blogger for pet insurance provider, Pets Best. 

Signs and Symptoms

Though there is an extensive list of possible symptoms after chocolate ingestion, the most common are as follows: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity (such as excitation, restlessness, or panting), tremors and convulsions, seizures, racing heart rate, arrhythmia (when the heart cannot beat properly in a normal rhythm), and in severe cases death.

After chocolate ingestion, it takes nearly four days for it to work out of an animal’s system. Because of this, symptoms can progress and last for the entire 4 days that it takes an animals body to clear the toxin.

Why and How is Chocolate Toxic

Chocolate is processed by grinding hulled cacao beans. The product that results from this grinding is called chocolate liquor. Within the chocolate liquor is a chemical called theobromine. This chemical is the reason that chocolate is toxic to pets (both cats and dogs). The more chocolate liquor found in a product, the more toxic it is to a pet, meaning less of it needs to be eaten for more serious symptoms to occur.

Chocolate Types: From Most Toxic to Least Toxic

  • The highest theobromine content is found in baking chocolate
  • Followed by semisweet/dark chocolate
  • Then milk chocolate
  • Lastly, white chocolate (it contains an insignificant amount of theobromine).

How Much Chocolate Will Poison My Dog or Cat?

Toxic doses of theobromine are 9 milligrams per pound. Meaning that a 20-pound animal would need to eat 8.2 ounces of milk chocolate, or just 0.9 ounces of baking chocolate to achieve a toxic dose.

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What to Do if Your Dog or Cat Eats Chocolate

If you suspect or know that your pet has eaten chocolate, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Veterinarian Treatment

Dogs and cats that are treated quickly after ingestion have a much greater chance of avoiding toxicities. If your pet is seen quickly enough, your veterinarian can induce vomiting to try and remove as much of the chocolate from your pets system as possible. After a pet has vomited, they are typically treated with some form of activated charcoal. The charcoal will help absorb the toxins that are found in the chocolate. If an animal has ingested chocolate too long ago to be treated with vomiting and charcoal, they are generally treated with supportive care. This would include IV fluid therapy and medications specific for whatever symptoms that patient may be experiencing.

Actual Pets Best Insurance Claims for Chocolate Poisoning (data from the previous 100 days)

Mugsy, a designer breed dog

Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $1,067.62

Pets Best Insurance reimbursed: $960.86

Butterscotch, a mixed breed dog

Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $936

Pets Best Insurance reimbursed: $748.80

Pookie, a cocker spaniel

Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $1,632.19

Pets Best Insurance reimbursed: $1,225.75

Are you financially prepared if your dog or cat eats chocolate or something else something toxic? Dog insurance or cat insurance through Pets Best Insurance helps you pay veterinarian bills by reimbursing you 70% – 100%. Check out pet insurance reviews to learn why the best pet insurance is Pets Best.

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Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Call Pets Best at 877-738-7237

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