I've always known that chocolate was bad for our little furry friends -- both dogs and cats -- but I've never really understood why. Since I'm pretty much a chocoholic, albeit a controlled chocoholic (can there be such a thing?), and Zoey the cool cat lives with me,
I thought I'd see what the Internet said about chocolate poisoning for pets and the signs of chocolate poisoning. I do keep chocolate candy bars on the kitchen counter, and while Zoey knows that certain areas of the house are out of bounds (e.g., kitchen countertops, dining room table, top of refrigerator since there's an intermediate stop on the kitchen countertop, and my grand piano), one always has to be prepared when there's an animal involved.
So off we go ("into the wild blue yonder." Or is "to follow the yellow brick road"?) to investigate chocolate.
Chocolate is made from cacao beans, and the toxic component is theobromine. I would have thought that anything that ends in "bromine" probably would have had some bromine in it, but not in this case. Theobromine is simply a derivation of Theobroma, which is the genus of the cacao tree.
Theobromine was discovered in 1841 in cacao beans and isolated in 1878. Uses in modern medicine include as a diuretic and heart stimulant. I can vouch for the heart stimulant; my heart beats a few times faster when there's chocolate in the room -- LOL.
Interestingly, theobromine is one of the byproducts when the human liver processes caffeine.
The toxic dose of theobromine for our pets is 100-200 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of pet weight, although the ASPCA has documented problems at concentrations as low as 20 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of weight.
Worst chocolates for your pets:
Unsweetened chocolate, also known as baker's chocolate -- 390-450 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
Semi-sweet chocolate -- 150-300 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
Milk chocolate -- 44-60 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
White chocolate -- small amounts; poisoning unlikely
Translated into something we can understand, a 50 pound dog would have to eat about nine ounces of milk chocolate to ingest 20 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of weight. Zoey the cool cat would have to eat about two ounces.
I found a list of warning signs for chocolate poisoning for our pets, and the same list was in several articles. I don't really like the final item on the list, "death." I would ask, "Can death be a WARNING sign?" I guess it could be if you have other pets. Anyway, here's the warning signs:
excessive thirst accompanied by excessive urination
Take care of your pets.
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