Possible Food toxicities in the Festive Season

Christmas is only around the corner, so what, should we as pet owners be thinking before we wrap that delicious box of lint chocolates and place it under the Christmas tree.

Can my pet(s) open this and eat the contents? If yes, think about placing this gift first thing in morning ensure your Christmas is not spent at the vets treating your chocolate drunk pet.

Most people know that chocolate is toxic for dogs, but how safe is cocoa for cats? The short answer: It isn’t. Chocolate is far more toxic to cats than dogs, but since cats aren’t as likely to get into human food as dogs, chocolate poisoning in felines is less common, and less discussed.

There are different kinds of chocolate – white, milk, dark and cooking. Depending on what kind of chocolate your pet has eaten, how much they have eaten and your pet’s weight dictates the plan of action.  White chocolate is not toxic to animals, in general but consumption of enough may cause a bout of pancreatitis. Cooking chocolate is by far the worst as it contains the most theobromine.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in pets

Symptoms do not appear until 6-12 hours after chocolate ingestion. Symptoms that your pet may have chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting;

  • Drooling;

  • Diarrhea;

  • Extreme thirst;

  • Increased urination;

  • Hyperactivity;

  • Pacing;

  • Panting;

  • Muscle tremors; and,

  • Seizures.

What to do when you realise your pet has eaten chocolate

Find the empty packet(s) and try work out how much has been eaten.

Identify the name of the chocolate and what kind of chocolate it is eg dark lindt or Cadbury milk chocolate.

Contact your vet.  They will discuss how long it has been since they ate the chocolate, how much your pet weighs, followed by the chocolate info you have already gathered before calling them.

How is chocolate toxicity treated?  

 If the animal has eaten the toxic food with in the last three hours, an injection can be given to make the animal vomit. Following the vomiting episode, the animal may be given charcoal tablets or powder to bind to any toxin remaining in the gastrointestinal tract.

If, however, it is after the three-hour bracket, your pet may not be given the injection to make them vomit as the chocolate may have already been digested. It is very common to provide supportive treatments such as intravenous fluid therapy to help stabilize your dog and promote theobromine excretion. Charcoal may be administered to these dogs to prevent absorption of the toxins. All dogs ingesting chocolate should be closely monitored. If there is any irregular heart rhythm, and/or high blood pressure these may need to be treated to prevent organ damage or even death. Often, medications to slow the heart rate (e.g., beta-blockers) may be necessary to treat the elevated heart rate and arrhythmia.

Chocolate is just one of a few foods that can make your dog seriously sick. Here are a few more to be weary of:

All of these are dose depended so if your dog eats a single lollie, don’t fret, this will unlikely be a cause of harm to your dog. If you feed raw meat bones, meat or eggs then this is a choice pet owners must consider themselves, but it is possible for these things to cause malaise in your pet, and hence, they are listed. If in any doubt feel free to call Vet-O and discuss each of these items if you are at all concerned.