Don’t Give Your Pets Chocolate for Valentines

Kit Cat?

Kit Cat?

If you are going to be indulging in chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day this year, don’t extend this to your pets.

Chocolate is one of the foods that should never be given to pets due to the health problems that it can cause.

Here’s why you should avoid chocolate treats, plus some ideas for alternative options.

 Why Chocolate Can Be Dangerous

Chocolate is one of the leading causes of canine poisoning and can be extremely harmful for dogs. This is largely due to theobromine, which dogs break down slowly compared to humans. Even very small amounts can lead to sickness and diarrhea. A severe reaction can cause tremors, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, seizures, respiratory problems, hyperactivity and cardiac arrest. As a worst case scenario, chocolate can kill.

Your dog’s size will have a big impact on how much chocolate could be consumed before it becomes unsafe. A small dog is more likely to become ill compared to a larger dog, even if they have only eaten the same amount of chocolate. A quantity of 25g has been known to prove fatal for a 20kg dog, especially if it is dark chocolate that has been consumed.

Small amounts of chocolate are unlikely to prove fatal but can make your dog sick. It’s rare for one square of chocolate to do lots of damage but bear in mind that many dogs will happily eat more chocolate in one sitting than the average human would, so it is safest not to give any.

It is a lot easier than you might think for them to eat a toxic amount.

The type of chocolate being consumed is also significant. Dark chocolate is particularly bad for dogs as it contains much more theobromine. White chocolate is relatively low in theobromine but milk chocolate can still be unsafe in poisonous quantities.

Cats can also have fatal reactions to chocolate, although this is less common compared to dogs as they are less enthusiastic about eating it. Theobromine poisoning can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, seizures, cardiac arrest, weakness and coma. Dark chocolate is the worst culprit here too, due to theobromine content. Just 20 mg per pound of your cat’s body weight could potentially prove fatal.

 Alternative Pet Treats

Chocolate may be a no-go area but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give your pet treats. Specialist treats are the obvious candidates and many of these contain nutrients such as protein and calcium for health and wellbeing.

Beyond this, small pieces of cooked chicken can work well as treats for both cats and dogs.

Dogs can also safely snack on most types of fruit. Raisins, grapes, Macadamia nuts, mushrooms and avocado should be avoided as snacks and treats for all pets.

[Photo credit: Ricardo N. Cabral]