Chocolate is arguably Australia’s favourite flavour and many people may want to share their chocolate with their beloved pets. However, most people are not aware that chocolate can be toxic for your dog or cat.
Why is chocolate bad for my pet?
Firstly, the high fat content of chocolate can cause a serious metabolic disease called pancreatitis. The signs of pancreatitis can include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and a decreased appetite. While pancreatitis is a problem in itself, it is not the most worrying outcome of your pet ingesting chocolate.
Chocolate is directly toxic to your pet because it contains a substance called theobromine, which can affect the cardiovascular, nervous and gastrointestinal systems if ingested in sufficient quantities. Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of theobromine than milk chocolate, so is therefore more toxic to your pet. For example, a 60g block of dark chocolate could be lethal to a 7kg dog while a 60g block of milk chocolate will probably only cause a digestive upset. The signs of theobromine toxicity include:
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Tremors and/or seizures
- A racing heart beat
- Even death in severe cases
What do I do if my pet eats chocolate?
If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, contact us immediately as we will be able to decide on the most appropriate treatment for your pet. If the chocolate was eaten within a few hours, our vet will most likely induce vomiting to minimise absorption of the toxin. It will help the vet if you can tell them exactly how much, and what type of chocolate was eaten. Your pet may then require 12-24 hours of supportive care such as oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids to encourage elimination of the toxins from the body.
There is no specific antidote for chocolate toxicity, but most pets can recover if given timely treatment. Therefore it is important to keep chocolate away from your pets and to contact our hospital if you have any concerns.
The calculator on this page will show you which levels of chocolate are dangerous to your dog. If you have any concerns please call us on (02) 4959 5766.