Sweet Tooth

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 12, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

When I have a sweet tooth, the first thing I crave for is something chocolate.  As most of you have heard many times, chocolate is bad for pets, but what is it about chocolate that causes the problems, and do all types of chocolates have the same effects?

Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines, which are comprised of caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is the main methylxanthine in chocolate and other items containing cocoa, and is responsible  for most of symptoms associated with chocolate poisoning. In humans, chocolate, coffee, tea and other methylxanthine containing products, act as a stimulant that stay in our bodies for a short amount of time, but the dog’s body cannot break down these products as quickly as ours can, and when these chemicals linger in their blood stream, it can create many issues.

All types of chocolate have the potential to make your pet sick, but how bad your pet is affected depends on the type of chocolate, the amount eaten and the size of your pet. Each type of chocolate has a different amount of methylxanthine and the more it contains, the more poisonous they are. White chocolate has the least amount of methylxanthine, then milk chocolate, then semisweet (dark) chocolate and baking chocolate and cocoa beans are the most toxic.

To put it in terms that are easy to understand, a good reference point is to say that one ounce of milk chocolate per one pound of body weight is toxic, one ounce of semisweet chocolate per three pounds of body weight is toxic and one ounce of baking chocolate per nine pounds of body weight is toxic. 

The signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness,  hyperactivity, increase in urination, stiffness, rapid heart rate, seizures and  on rare occasions, death.

If you suspect that your dog has gotten into any amount or type of chocolate, you should contact your vet’s office or an emergency clinic immediately and they will determine whether or not you need to bring your pet in for treatment or if you simply need to induce vomiting at home and monitor him or her.

There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity, so please keep your sweet pets away from these tasty treats, not only during the upcoming Halloween season, but year round. While dogs are the most common pets that are poisoned by chocolate, cats, horses and even pet rats can also be affected. For those of you that have your yard landscaped, be sure not to use cocoa shell mulch, as these can pose serious risks to your pets the same way chocolate does. Remember, it’s better to prevent, than to have to treat.

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