Valentine's Day Treats are Dangerous for Your Pets
By: Tippy & Alfred
Valentine's Day is a great holiday and many people celebrate
it all over the world. So chocolate and other treats and
presents are exchanged as a way to let people know that you
care for or love them. The problem is that during that time,
if you have a pet, chocolate can be accidentally left around
the house where your pet can get into it and eat it.
Chocolate is fatal in large quantities to many animals and
even in very small quantities to some, and can injure or
Most people believe that it is the caffeine in chocolate
that kills animals, but that is only partially true. There
is another ingredient that in combination with caffeine
kills animals, and it is called theobromine. Both
theobromine and caffeine are methylxanthine alkaloids - in
short they are stimulants. They stimulate the nervous
system, constrict blood vessels and cause a rapid and weak
The livers of small animals like dogs, cats, and other pet
species just can't process these stimulants like the human
liver can. Where in a human liver these stimulants are
eventually processed and removed from the blood stream, an
animal liver can't do this.
Chocolate isn't the only substance that causes these
problems in animals. Coffee, tea, and some over-the-counter
drugs have these stimulants in them. The most dangerous of
all is baking chocolate, which has concentrated instances of
these two stimulants in it. And, keep in mind that there is
no cure for this kind of poisoning. The only way to help
your pet is to get it to a veterinarian right away so its
stomach can be pumped and the symptoms can be treated. Do
not try to induce vomiting on your own.
This type of toxicity is more common in dogs than other
types of pet animals since they have a tendency to gulp food
quickly without thought, and most love sweets. But other
animals may be poisoned by eating chocolate that has been
left out where they may have had access to it.
The toxicity of chocolate depends on the concentration of
chocolate to the other ingredients. White chocolate does the
least damage and isn't likely to poison a cat or dog in the
quantities they might find and eat, although a pet rat or
other small animal might be overdosed. But on the other
hand, milk chocolate is toxic at one ounce per pound of body
weight; two ounces of baking chocolate (two squares) may
kill a twenty pound dog.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include diarrhea, nausea or
vomiting, excess urination, irregular heartbeat, seizures,
and coma. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, even
if it was up to a day and a half ago, get it to the
veterinarian or animal hospital immediately! The sooner it
is treated, the better possibility of survival your pet has.
Remember also that the smaller the pet, the more likely they
are to be severely affected by chocolate.
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