Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween: And Chocolate Can Kill Your Pet

Roanoke Island Animal Clinic
It’s Halloween time! And with it come lots and lots of chocolate. All kinds of chocolate from milk to baking chocolate are available for our pets to consume. And if enough is consumed it can kill your pet. 

As we all know, when children eat too much chocolate they can get kind of hyper. That is because chocolate contains two drugs of the methylxanthine family. One is caffeine and the other is theobromine. Both, in small amounts cause the little jolt we get from eating chocolate or drinking some coffee.
 
But if an overzealous dog or cat gets hold of too much chocolate, it can cause lethal effects such as seizures and cardiac arrest. The signs usually occur within 6-12 hrs. post ingestion. Initially the pet can vomit and get really thirsty then become restless. They can progress to hyperactivity, ataxia (drunkenness), tremors and seizures.

 As the poisoning progresses, death occurs from heart arrhythmias and respiratory failure. Less then 2 ounces per kilogram of body weight of milk chocolate and 10% of this of baking chocolate can prove lethal. Remember, even less then this may not kill the pet but can cause severe illness.

Don’t panic if your pet eats a piece of chocolate. Remember, a 90 pound Labrador eating a milk chocolate bar is much different then a 4 pound Yorkie doing the same thing. Any consumption of dark chocolate should be taken more seriously since it contains much more of the toxins. If you know your dog or cat got into chocolate call your veterinarian. They will help determine if the exposure was significant and take the proper steps to avoid any problems.

Mark Grossman, DVM, MS
"Roanoke Island Animal Clinic"


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