Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Chocolate

What is a Chocolate?
Chocolate is made from Theobroma cacao seeds. The cacao seeds themselves are actually quite bitter and are roasted and ground to extract the cocoa flavor. Chocolate is an extremely popular food and the sweet chocolate we eat contains the ground cacao, but also cocoa butter or added vegetable oils, and sugar.

Why would Chocolate be in pet food?
It’s unlikely you will ever find chocolate in your pet’s food as it contains a toxic ingredient, theobromine. While humans can break this down and metabolize theobromine, dogs and cats process it much more slowly and it can build to toxic levels. It also contains high levels of caffeine.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet Chocolate?
YES! The toxicity of the chocolate is dependent on how much and the type of chocolate eaten. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains so dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most toxic. White chocolate (which is not chocolate and contains no cocoa), and milk chocolate contain less and are therefore less toxic. Obviously larger dogs may be able to handle more than smaller dogs.

Mild chocolate poisoning may result in stomach problems and diarrhea. Theobromine poisoning can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually preceded by severe hyperactivity.

If you think your pet has ingested a large amount (or even an ounce) of chocolate, your best bet is to call your veterinarian for instructions. Symptoms don’t occur immediately and may take 6-10 hours to develop. This article from Petful [https://www.petful.com/pet-health/how-much-chocolate-toxic-dogs/] has a formula you can use to figure out the potential harm and toxicity levels to your pet if they ate chocolate – you will need to know their weight and the amount of chocolate they ate.

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Luckily, cats are less inclined to eat sweet things and unlikely to accidentally ingest chocolate like your dog. But, it is still just as toxic for cats, so be sure to keep it out of their reach as well.

Chocolate Factoids:

  • White chocolate isn’t really even chocolate as it contains no cacao.
  • The inventor of the Chocolate Chip Cookie sold the idea to Nestle Toll House in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  • Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate in his print shop in Philadelphia.

A sampling of pet foods that contain Chocolate:
Thankfully, we found NO foods containing chocolate in our Petnet Pet Food Database.

Sources:

https://www.petful.com/pet-health/can-cats-eat-chocolate/

https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/is-chocolate-bad-for-dogs

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dogs-and-chocolate-get-the-facts#1

https://www.factslides.com/s-Chocolate