Chocolate is irresistible for many of us, but it can be fatal for pets. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are chemicals known as methylxanthines. Methylxanthines are stimulants that affect the heart, central nervous system and respiratory system. Dogs and cats metabolize methylxanthines more slowly than humans, so even a small amount can be toxic.
Signs of chocolate toxicosis typically occur within six to twelve hours after ingestion, and may include restlessness, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea and a distended abdomen. As the condition continues to worsen, signs may include increased urination, incontinence, increased heart rate, hypertension, seizures and death.
Risk factors include the size of your dog, the type of chocolate and the amount of chocolate eaten. Cats are at lower risk because they’re not as enticed by sweet treats.
Please keep all chocolate safely out of your pet’s reach. If a pet does manage to steal some, prompt veterinary attention may save it’s life.