Across Switzerland, dogs and cats are treated for chocolate poisoning every Easter.
A potential lethal dose in a 7kg dog or cat is only 45g of milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic.
Chocolate contains methylxanthine alkaloids in the form of theobromine and caffeine, which cause constriction of arteries, increased heart rate, and central nervous system stimulation. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, and increased urination, and can eventually cause excitability, increased respiration and heartbeat, stiffness, seizures, and exaggerated reflexes. Cardiac failure, seizures, coma, and even death can occur if your pet is not treated within four to six hours after ingestion. Treatment may be needed if your dog or cat eats any amount of chocolate so please contact your vet immediately.
It will enable your vet to work out whether your pet has eaten a toxic dose and what treatment your pet is likely to need if you can tell them:
- How much chocolate your pet has eaten
- What type of chocolate it was (wrappers can be very helpful)
- When your pet ate the chocolate
Symptoms to look out for if you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate:
- Vomiting (may include blood)
- Restlessness and hyperactivity
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle tension, incoordination
- Increased heart rate
If you have any suspicions of chocolate ingestion, please contact your vet as soon as possible.