As a vet, Easter means two things. Chocolate AND lots of questions about pets eating chocolate. In fact, my phone rings off the hook with panicked calls from moments where your little mate has snuck a piece of one of our special treats. So I thought I’d remove the wrapper on everything you need to know about the sweet stuff. And guess what, it may not actually be as scary as you might think…
Chocolate contains a compound called ‘theobromine’. It’s similar to caffeine and is what gives dark chocolate that buzz that even us humans feel. The problem? Dogs and cats don’t handle that buzz at all well though and if they have too much, their nervous system becomes overstimulated and it causes seizures...and worse.
The type of chocolate is crucial. White chocolate is not toxic. While dark chocolate is far more dangerous than milk chocolate.
The amount pets need to eat to have a problem is surprisingly high. When you see the sheer volume, you can see why actual toxicity is rare...and mostly limited to dogs who have raided Easter egg stashes while their parents are out.
For a 35kg dog (Labrador size), it’s 1.4kg of milk chocolate or 7 regular blocks.
For a 5kg dog (Poodle size), it’s 250g of milk chocolate or 1 ¼ regular blocks.
Interestingly, the fat, sugar or even the foil will often make them sick before the chocolate does.
Dark chocolate is around 3 times stronger though, so they'll only need to eat 1/3 of the amount above.
Obviously, if you don’t know how much they’ve eaten, get them to the vet as soon as possible.
What about cats? Because cats don’t generally have a sweet tooth, it’s rare for them to eat chocolate. Chocolate milk is often the closest they come but it is comparatively quite low in theobromine.
While it should never be given as a treat, one piece of chocolate won’t kill them. And if they grab a small piece off the table, don't panic.
If it's an egg shaped treat they're after, why not try something that will actually be good for them. My Daily Boosters are a great alternative...