With the Halloween right around the corner, many pet owners will be purchasing chocolate to distribute to children or as an extra treat for themselves. Most people are aware that chocolate is not good for pets, primarily dogs. However, most people are not aware why it can cause problems.
In most cases of chocolate ingestion, the most prevalent symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, the high fat content of chocolate can even incite pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas, leading to severe gastrointestinal signs. True chocolate toxicity results from ingestion of large amounts of chocolate relative to body size. The toxic ingredient is theobromine. Theobromine is found in moderate levels in milk chocolate, and in even greater levels in both dark chocolate and baking chocolate. The effects of theobromine can range from vomiting and diarrhea to hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and even cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to death.
Should your pet ingest chocolate, the best thing to do is call your veterinarian. Try to assess how much chocolate and what type of chocolate your pet has eaten. In most cases, your veterinarian can tell you if your pet has ingested what might be a toxic level of chocolate.