I know we all love our furry family members and tend to give them snacks of human food, but there are some of these that while they are a tasty treat for us can be very damaging to our four-legged friends.

Chocolate Toxicity

Chocolate and other food substances like coffee that contain caffeine can be extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. These products have varying levels of toxins called methylxanthines. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, hyperactivity and muscle tremors. As the toxicity advances they can cause abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and even death.

Treatment is possible if we know that the pet ingested one of these substances. It involves minimizing further absorption, supportive care including IV fluids, and medication to control any vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, or seizures. If your pet ingested a very high toxic dose treatment can include several days in the hospital and potentially even transfer to a 24 hour care facility.

Even if your pet did not ingest a “toxic dose”, the chocolate can irritate their GI tract and cause vomiting, diarrhea or even a more severe condition called pancreatitis.

We caution everyone to be aware of any holiday candy, especially with Valentines Day around the corner. Please keep all sweet treats behind secure doors. It is amazing how the family pets can work together to get a bag of goodies off of a kitchen counter or a coffee table!

If your pet finds its way to a stash of chocolate or other caffeine containing substances, you should call us or Cherokee Emergency Clinic and bring them in. If possible bring the packaging so we can determine whether your pet ingested a toxic dose. Some chocolate products require a smaller amount to be toxic than others, so please take no chances; seek treatment immediately.

Xylitol Toxicity

Xylitol is a sweetener used in many sugar free candies and gums. It can cause glucose regulation problems and can act as a toxin to your pet’s liver. If you discover that you pet has eaten something containing xylitol, they should be evaluated right away.