If you love your pets, you apparently want to pamper them to the best of your abilities. For example, you may want to feed your cat and dog their favorite food. However, it is important to note that something that’s safe for humans may not be so for animals. Chocolate is one such food item that can be dangerous for your pet. For better understanding, let’s take a look at why chocolate can be dangerous for cats and dogs.
Theobromine – A bitter alkaloid, Theobromine is derived from cacao plant. It can be found in most chocolates available in shops. It is present even in milk chocolate, although the concentration is more in dark chocolate products. Theobromine is also present in other foods such as kola nut and tea plant. Theobromine comes under the xanthine alkaloid category that also includes other substances such as caffeine and theophylline.
Theobromine effect on humans – As human body weight is much more than cats and dogs, eating chocolate in normal quantities does not lead to any specific health issues. However, in research studies where volunteers were fed 50-100 grams of cocoa, symptoms such as trembling, sweating and severe headaches were reported. Theobromine could be dangerous for humans, but for that one has to eat much higher quantities of chocolate. This is unlikely to happen in normal circumstances.
Theobromine effect on cats and dogs – Common pets such as cats and dogs metabolize Theobromine at a lower rate. This means that even small doses of around 50 grams of milk chocolate can create serious health issues for cats and dogs. In case of bigger dogs, problems could start at higher doses of around 400 grams of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate will be even more dangerous, as it has higher concentrations of Theobromine. Symptoms of Theobromine poisoning among pets include excitability, dehydration and digestive issues. Seizures and death is also possible if treatment is not provided in time.
Other animals can also experience Theobromine poisoning if they eat too much chocolate. For example, in a case reported in 2014, four American black bears had died after consuming large quantities of chocolate. Autopsy report revealed heart failure caused by Theobromine.
Cats will normally avoid chocolate on their own. However, they may want to take a bite if you coax them. In case of dogs, they may eat chocolate if they have access to it. It is also important to note the amount of chocolate consumed. If it is just a small nibble, nothing horrifying may occur. In case your cat or dog eats substantial quantities of chocolate relative to their size, and if they have symptoms, it will be appropriate to consult your veterinarian. Theobromine poisoning is treatable if detected in time.