Chocolate and pets

Welfare

Chocolate is very toxic to both cats and dogs and may prove fatal if eaten.

The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. And cocoa powder is incredibly toxic. 

Chocolate treats may also contain other ingredients that are harmful to pets, such as certain nuts, raisins and alcohol. 

Why is it so toxic?

Chocolate contains cocoa from the cacao bean. The cacao bean has an alkaloid chemical called theobromine, which is the toxic element.

The higher the cocoa content, the more theobromine there is. So cocoa powder, dark chocolate and cooking chocolate are the most dangerous. 

Cocoa cacao beans

What does it do?

Theobromine primarily affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), and respiratory system (nose, throat, lungs etc), as well as having a diuretic effect (needing to wee a lot). 

The first signs of poisoning in pets include vomiting and excessive thirst. Other signs of toxicity include

  • Like they are drunk
  • Sluggishness or Hyperactivity
  • Unsteady on their feet
  • Drooling
  • Heavy breathing 
  • Fast heart rate
  • High temperature
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Sudden bouts of vomiting 
  • Collapse

 

What should I do if my pet has eaten chocolate?

Always contact your vet if your cat or dog has eaten chocolate. They can assess the danger looking at the weight of your pet, the amount of chocolate they have likely consumed and the type of chocolate it was. They may suggest monitoring for symptoms, or you may need an emergency vet visit.

Prevention is always better!

Keep chocolate bars, cakes, baking ingredients and treats well out of reach and do not leave pets unsupervised around them. Always supervise children so they do not feed chocolate to your pet. 

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