STILLWATER, Okla. – Most everyone enjoys a sweet treat of chocolate every now and then. Even pets like to have a treat, too. However, chocolate should be avoided as a pet treat because it can be toxic to animals.
With the holiday season in full swing, pet owners may have more chocolate in the house for baking Christmas cookies and candies. Pet owners need to be aware of the danger chocolate can pose for their furry friends, said Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension veterinarian.
“Pets enjoy sweet treats just like their owners do, but it’s important to give them a treat intended for dogs instead,” MacAllister said. “If you want to treat your pet, give them their own treat they’ll enjoy just as much as you enjoy your chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a toxic compound for animals. Animals are much more sensitive to this compound than humans.”
Milk chocolate contains about 44 milligrams per ounce and dark chocolate, such as dark baking chocolate, contains 450 milligrams per ounce. For a medium-sized dog of 25 pounds, it may take up to 20 ounces of milk chocolate to cause the animal problems, but it takes just a couple of ounces of dark chocolate to put the animal in jeopardy. Chocolate toxicity in pets is dose dependent. The smaller the pet, the smaller the dose of chocolate they can consume before it is a lethal dose. The larger the pet, the more chocolate it would take to constitute a lethal amount.
Some clinical signs pet owners should be aware of in the event their pet manages to consume a large amount of chocolate include vomiting and diarrhea.
“If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate you should contact your veterinarian,” MacAllister said. “If seen early, your veterinarian can give your pet medication to hopefully decrease absorption of the chocolate and to minimize effects of chocolate.”
Pet owners who live quite a distance from their veterinarian may want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435. The ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline can give pet owners information on whether an item is toxic, symptoms of toxicity in pets, how to treat the pet at home and more.
“Pets can easily consume enough chocolate to kill them, which creates an emergency situation,” she said. “If your pet has consumed chocolate or any toxic substance, if possible note the amount and type ingested and contact your veterinarian immediately. The quicker your pet is treated, the better chance the pet has for survival.”
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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