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Chocolate Toxicity & Pets

Mmmmmm chocolate....sigh, so yummy...but at the same time so potentially harmful to our furry family members!  This time of year between Valentine's Day and Easter, and with the increased amount of home baking people are doing with COVID, our veterinary team sees many patients who have been admitted for accidental ingestion of chocolate.  

Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate) as well as the size of the patient,  determines how great the risk for toxicity will be.  As a general rule, dark and baker's chocolate carries higher risk for toxicity due to the increased amounts of caffeine and theobromine they contain.  These compounds can cause serious side effects such as hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, abnormal increases in heart rate and rhythm as well as death.

Although milk chocolate contains lower amounts of these toxic components, it is still often high in sugar and fat which if eaten in large enough quantities can be very harmful as well.  The high fat content in particular can cause the development of pancreatitis, a nasty inflammation of the pancreas that often leads to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.  Severe cases of pancreatitis often require hospitalization for treatment and can in some cases progress to be fatal as well.    

Our team recommends that whenever you suspect or witness that your pet family member may have accidentally ingested some chocolate, to always contact us for further guidance.  Many times If the ingestion has occurred very recently, time can be of the essence by having your pet seen and treated by our veterinary to reduce the risk of toxic side effects.  

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