This cat wants to know why is chocolate toxic to dogs and cats - but she's satisfied with a toy bunny!

Is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs and Cats? Yes, Keep Easter Eggs Away!

While Easter breaks all the culinary rules and means we can eat chocolate for breakfast, there are some considerations. Besides extra teeth brushing, there’s the question of why is chocolate toxic to dogs and cats? And, just how toxic can it be? More on this below.

Firstly, while you’re hiding Easter eggs around the house and garden, be aware of tiny paws and furry muzzles nabbing these tasty treats. Chocolate may seem innocent, but in the wrong paws it can spell disaster. Here’s what you need to know about how and why chocolate is bad for pets.

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs and cats?

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats because it contains a natural stimulant called theobromine. And while humans love it, we can easily metabolise it. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, process theobromine much more slowly.

So slowly in fact that it can accumulate in their systems and result in levels so dangerously high they cause toxicity. The level of danger can range from having an upset tummy to being lethal.

So, look out for your pawsome friend around Easter by keeping treats out of reach. And while we’re talking pet safety and holiday food, here’s what to look out for (in advance) with Christmas dinner for pets.

This pup has a fluffy toy for Easter - but no chocolate eggs, because they're dangerous!

How much chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs?

If your toddler is learning to share and has accidentally given your puss or pup a chocolate Easter egg, then here’s what you need to know…

The level of danger chocolate has for your pet primarily depends on the size of your pet and the type of chocolate they’ve eaten. Chocolate toxicity in pets can start with as little as 20mg of theobromine per kilo of your pet’s weight.  

For this reason, dog size can mean the difference between danger or discomfort. So, a Corgi who’s broken into your secret chocolate stash could be in more danger than a Canaan. For this reason, cats can also get a lot sicker from a smaller portion of chocolate than dogs. Their smaller body mass index makes them more susceptible to stronger effects.

However, cats are less likely to try these tasty treats than dogs are, which is also why the dangers of chocolate and cats is lesser known.
In addition to body size, some chocolates, namely cooking chocolate and dark chocolate, can be more dangerous. This is because these have a higher cocoa level. And as a result, they have more theobromine.

Chocolate toxicity calculator

So, if your pooch or puss has cracked open a chocolate egg and eaten some, it’s a good idea to contact your vet. You can also use this chocolate toxicity calculator to get a better sense of what level of danger your pet may be facing.

This calculator allows you to enter the type of chocolate your pet’s eaten, how much of it, and how much your pet weighs. It then calculates what the potential dangers are, so you know whether to anticipate a runny tummy or you need a rush to the vet.

In the quest to understand why is chocolate toxic to dogs and cats, its important to know that dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk or white chocolate.

Can cats and dogs eat white chocolate?

Not all chocolates are made equal and some can be more harmful to pets. For instance, white chocolate contains cocoa butter but little to no theobromine. While it’s still not healthy for cats or dogs to eat, it’s unlikely to be dangerous.

Milk chocolate also contains less theobromine than dark and cooking chocolate, but it can still be a hazard to pets.

While we’re talking human food and pets, sugary foods and fatty foods aren’t good for pets either. These can lead to them being overweight, which in turn can result in diabetes in dogs and cats.

What are the symptoms of toxic poisoning in dogs and cats?

Symptoms range from the jitters to more life-threatening effects like seizures. We’ve compiled a list of symptoms so you can be armed with knowledge. However, we’re hoping you’re reading this in advance, to prevent your pets from ever finding those Easter eggs

Here are some examples of what chocolate can do to pets:

  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • hyperactivity
  • drooling
  • internal bleeding
  • increased thirst
  • rapid breathing
  • muscle tremors
  • lack of coordination
  • seizures
  • irregular heartbeat

If you’re unsure whether your pet has eaten chocolate and they’re showing symptoms like these, take them to a vet. The sooner they’re treated, the more likely they are to recover and be safe.  

If your pet is showing these symptoms and you’re sure there’s no chance the cause is chocolate, here’s a list of things that can poison your pet.

Pet insurance for peace of mind

Give your fur-legged friend the benefit of a soft landing with pet insurance. With PD Insurance’s range of affordable plans, your cat and dog can receive the right care when they need it most.

If your puss or pooch happens to eat chocolate, a visit to the vet can make all the difference. A vet can act quickly and help combat the symptoms of chocolate toxicity in your pet.

All our pet plans reduce the cost of visits to the vet and offer a range of other vital benefits too. Our cat insurance and dog insurance plans are designed to give your pet optimum security without costing you an arm and a leg.

Chocolate toxic to dogs and cats – over to you

Has your cat or dog mistakenly been the one to find the Easter egg during an Easter Egg hunt? Tell us how you identified the danger (was it an errant wrapper?) and how you coped, via our Facebook page.

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