Your Pet, Chocolate, and Sweet Treats

In honor of March, which is Poison Prevention Month, let’s focus on one of the most common pet toxins found in most homes: chocolate. It’s a big no-no for our cats and dogs! Learn more below from a vet in Lafayette, LA.

Why is Chocolate Poisonous?

Chocolate is poisonous because of two chemicals found in it: caffeine and theobromine, neither of which agree with our animal companions. These substances can cause symptoms like excessive drooling, lethargy, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, diarrhea, and—without treatment—collapse, coma, and even death.

Chocolate of all types contains caffeine and theobromine, so no chocolate is truly safe. This goes for milk, dark, semi-sweet, white, powdered varieties, chocolate syrup, baking chocolate, and more. Also beware of foods and beverages that contain chocolate, such as cookies, cakes, or dessert drinks.

What’s the Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning?

If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested chocolate, rush them to the nearest veterinary emergency room. The stomach may need to be flushed to rid your companion’s body of the toxic agent, or activated charcoal may be administered to slow the poison’s absorption. As your pet recovers, supportive therapies like oxygen supplementation and fluid replacement may be necessary.

What About Other Sweets?

Chocolate isn’t the only sweet treat out there that can cause serious harm to your pet. Many candies, gums, and even certain baked pastry items are dangerous, too! That’s because many of these foods are sweetened with xylitol, an artificial sugar substitute that is highly toxic to animals. It can cause lethargy, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, and worse, even in small amounts.

How Can I Prevent Poisoning?

Fortunately, it’s not hard to prevent episodes of poisoning due to chocolate or other sweets. It’s simply a matter of restricting your pet’s access to these foods at all times—never leave chocolate, candy, pastries, or gum out on countertops or tables where pets may be able to get at them. If your pet is the type to surf the countertops, talk to your vet for tips on training this behavior out of your animal friend. When hosting parties or dinners, keep a close eye on all chocolate treats to make sure your pet doesn’t try to chow down.

For more information on chocolate, sweet treats, and your pet’s health, contact your Lafayette, LA animal clinic. We’re here to help with all of your most important pet-care needs!

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