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Toxic Chocolate

09 April 2020
Toxic Chocolate

With Easter approaching please don’t be tempted to give your pets chocolate. Although they’re not normally as curious about people foods as dogs are, cat (and kittens in particular) can sometimes eat things they aren’t supposed to eat, including chocolate. Derived from the roasted seeds of the cacao plant, certain properties in chocolate can be toxic to cats when they’re ingested, specifically, caffeine and theobromine. Eating these ingredients can lead to a number of medical complications—some of which may be serious. Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of chocolate poisoning below.

Symptoms and Causes

 If your pet is experiencing chocolate poisoning, it may have one of the following symptoms:
•Vomiting
•Diarrhea
•Increased body temperature
•Increased reflex responses
•Muscle rigidity
•Rapid breathing
•Increased heart rate
•Low blood pressure
•Seizures
•Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)

These symptoms will vary based on the amount and type of chocolate that is ingested and can influence the severity of the condition. Varieties of chocolate that can be especially poisonous to cats are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and baking chocolate.

Diagnosis

If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate and is experiencing any of the above symptoms, bring it to your vet immediately. You can expect your vet to perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis to help determine if your cat has overdosed on caffeine and theobromine.

Your vet may also perform an ECG to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or conduction of heart beats.

Treatment

While you wait for your pet to be evaluated, try to keep them cool, calm and in a quiet place to help keep the symptoms of chocolate poisoning from escalating too quickly. Your vet may also recommend that you induce vomiting quickly after ingestion to prevent the chemicals in the chocolate from being digested and to control any seizures, should they occur. Fluids will be administered to keep your pet hydrated as its condition improves and, to avoid any further problems, you’ll want to feed your pet a bland diet for several days after it has been treated.

Prevention

The best form of preventing chocolate toxicity is to always keep chocolate out of your pet’s reach and be wary of feeding them anything that might contain chocolate.