two chocolate cupcakes with pink icing and red hearts for Valentine's Day

Every Valentine’s Day, we see a huge spike in chocolate related appointments, calls, and incidents here at Fisher Glen Animal Hospital. When it comes to chocolate and dogs, it’s just a busy time. So in addition to wishing all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day this year, we thought we’d write a little reminder to keep your chocolate bars, candies, and cakes well out of harm’s way this February 14th.

And here are a few answers to some of your most common questions about chocolate and pets!

Chocolate and Dogs – The Facts

Who doesn’t love chocolate? From cakes to ice creams to fudge, it’s got to be one of the world’s most favourite flavours! But while we are enjoying our best chocolate recipes, care should always be taken to keep these treats well away from our furry little friends. That’s because in large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can harm or even kill your dog or cat.

The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Theobromine is a naturally occuring bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant. It is found in chocolate, as well as in a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant, and the kola nut. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, allowing us to enjoy the tasty benefits of chocolate. However cats and dogs process theobromine much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

In a word, no! Chocolate and cats are much less talked about – (this is probably because they are simply far less likely to jump up and dig into a giant chocolate cake left unattended on the counter.) However, chocolate can indeed be lethal for cats. And it is not unheard of for a cat to test out a chocolate chip or two, especially if they’re about the same size as their treats. You’re going to want to take care to keep all chocolate chips, bars, ice creams and syrups well away from curious kitties.

What Are The Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning?

The symptoms of chocolate/theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, racing heart progressing to abnormal rhythms, and even death in severe cases. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms!

How Much Chocolate Will Harm My Pet?

More than just how much chocolate will harm your pet, another important consideration is what type of chocolate your dog or cat ate. The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more theobromine is present. This makes chocolate flavoured cakes or cookies the least harmful, followed by milk chocolate based recipes. Semisweet and dark chocolate is much more dangerous for your cat or dog. Cocoa powder and baking chocolate are the worst of all.

Toxic doses of theobromine are 9 mg per pound of dog for mild signs, up to 18 mg per pound of dog for severe signs. Milk chocolate contains 44 mg / ounce of theobromine while semisweet chocolate contains 150 mg per ounce, and baking chocolate contains 390 mg per ounce. It takes nearly 4 days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog’s system. If the chocolate was only just eaten, it is possible to induce vomiting. Otherwise, hospitalization and support are needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system.

You can visit PetMD.com for a handy Chocolate Toxicity Meter, which takes into account your pet’s weight, amount consumed, plus the different types of chocolate that could potentially be eaten, to give you a fuller picture of how to best assess potential dangers when it comes to chocolate and dogs.

Help – My Dog Just Ate A Chocolate Cake!

If you think your pet may have consumed chocolate, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us right away! We will always make the time to fit you in if your pet is ill. And if you are having an after hours emergency, please visit the Ottawa Animal Emergency & Specialty Hospital, our sister clinic open 24 hours a day.

And if all is well, why not check out our Blog for all the latest in news, articles, and pet health tips from Fisher Glen Animal Hospital! Also, did you know that when you sign up for one of our wellness plans you get one free extra visit to the vet every year? You can read all about it in Complete Animal Wellness Plans! Finally if you have any questions at all or you would like to make an appointment with Fisher Glen Animal Hospital, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us Today!