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Why Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?

Although sugar, fat, and xylitol (a sugar substitute) aren’t good for cats either, chocolate contains two ingredients that pose a threat to an animal’s health: caffeine and theobromine, a plant alkaloid that occurs naturally in cacao. Theobromine in particular is a proven toxin for most animals, including cats, as noted in a study published by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

The Latin name for the cocoa plant is Theobroma cacao, meaning “food for the gods,” and the roasted beans do make a yummy treat, but what makes chocolate so delightful for humans is exactly what makes it so dangerous for pets.

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate ?

Why Are These Ingredients so Dangerous for Animals?

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?
Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

The two main culprits, chocolate and theobromine, are stimulants. Caffeine, found in many food and drink items besides chocolate, becomes toxic when absorbed into your cat’s body, leading to “vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, restlessness and an increased heart rate,” explains Banfield Pet Hospital. Theobromine causes similar symptoms when ingested.

How Much Chocolate Is Too Much?

Any amount of chocolate is too much for your cat. All forms of chocolate are hazardous to your furry friend, such as dry cocoa powder and baking chocolate (most toxic due to their high level of theobromine), dark, semi-sweet, and milk chocolate, and even white chocolate, with its low percentage of cocoa.

However, the level of toxicity depends on how much she ingests and what kind. For a ten-pound cat, notes Petful, one small square of baking chocolate can do as much harm to your kitty as twenty-three wrapped chocolate drops. You should avoid letting your cat eat small amounts of chocolate, as any amount may cause illness.

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?
Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Help — My Cat Ate Chocolate! What Symptoms Should I Watch For?

A few side effects are listed above, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on her to see if she exhibits any of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Coma

As you would with any medical emergency, immediately bring your cat to the vet or animal emergency room to determine the extent of the poisoning and to receive treatment. After treatment, continue to monitor your cat for any other ill effects to ensure it is completely out of her system.

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?
Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

What Happens Next?

Remain as calm as possible because cats are very in-tune with their pet parents’ emotions. Try to keep them cool, calm and in a quiet place to help keep the symptoms of chocolate poisoning from escalating.

The vet may ask you to induce vomiting to help prevent your cat from digesting the toxins. Once you arrive at the office, he or she will perform tests on your cat, including the administration of fluids for rehydration. Your cat’s health and weight along with the type and amount of chocolate she ingested will determine which further tests and treatments are necessary.

How Do I Prevent This from Happening?

Chocolate ingestion is 100 percent preventable: keep chocolate out of paw’s reach. Cats are curious, unpredictable creatures and love to snoop around the kitchen, so secure all chocolate in a tightly sealed container. Think of all the things that might contain chocolate including brownies, donuts, cookies, candies, etc., because it’s not just the chocolate bars that can make her sick. This is especially true around holidays like Halloween.

If you’re entertaining, place candy dishes in places that are difficult for your cat to reach and store them immediately after the party. If a guest asks, “can cats eat chocolate?”, you are now prepared to answer with a resounding “no.”

Pet parents do like to reward their feline friends, and you can do so safely by sticking to safe cat treats, created to keep your cat happy and healthy. Then you get to keep the chocolate all to yourself! Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate toxicity can occur in cats if they eat enough of it.   cunfek / Getty Images

While dogs make up about 95% of chocolate consumption calls to pet poison hotlines, cats occasionally get into our sweet treats, too. Chocolate toxicity can occur in cats just as it can in dogs so it is important for cat owners to keep their chocolate away from their feline friends. Knowing what can happen and what to do if a cat eats chocolate can save a life.

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Cats?

Chocolate contains ingredients called theobromine and caffeine which are toxic to cats if consumed in large enough quantities. Theobromine absorbs much more slowly in cats than it does in humans so even a small amount of chocolate can be toxic to a small cat. Caffeine is similar to theobromine chemically and stimulates a cat much more than a human since cats are much more sensitive to it.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in a Cat

Chocolate toxicity in cats can cause a variety of symptoms including death if a cat is not treated promptly. Since each cat may have different sensitivity levels to theobromine and caffiene, if your cat has eaten chocolate you should contact your veterinarian immediately even if you don’t think it was very much.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in a Cat

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Tremors
  • Death
  • Increased reflex responses
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures

Since cats are more sensitive to the components of chocolate than we are are, obvious symptoms will be seen if a cat eats even a small amount of it. Initially, vomiting and diarrhea may result along with hyperactivity but if not treated, increased thirst, restlessness, tremors, and other signs of sensitivity will be noted. With consumption of large amounts of chocolate and if treatment is not received, a cat may have seizures, stiffness, rapid breathing, and even die.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate Toxicity Levels in Cats

Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
Type of Chocolate Minimum Amount That Can Be Toxic to an 8 lb. Cat
Milk1.14 oz
Dark0.5 oz
Semisweet0.5 oz
Baking0.2 oz
WhiteNot a concern

Types of Chocolate and Toxicity Concerns

The toxic dose of theobromine in cats is 200 mg/kg but different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine in it. As the chart above shows, baking, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate pose a greater risk to a cat than milk chocolate. White chocolate is not a concern for theobromine and caffeine toxicity at all because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids like other types of chocolate. White chocolate has extremely low levels of the chemicals needed to produce toxic effects in a cat.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Baking chocolate usually comes in large bars or chunks of 4 oz and is not sweet so it is only used for making confections. Only a small 0.2 oz needs to be bitten off of a bar of baking chocolate for it to be dangerous to a cat. Slightly more needs to be eaten if it is semisweet or dark chocolate but it still only takes 0.5 oz for a cat to reach a toxic amount of these types of chocolates. Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Milk chocolate has far less theobromine and caffeine in it than the more dangerous chocolate varieties so a cat has to eat just over 1.1 oz to reach a toxic level. This amount equates to about 8 Hershey Kiss milk chocolates.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Treatment of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats

If your cat is at risk for chocolate toxicity then your veterinarian may induce vomiting or recommend you do so at home before bringing it in for an examination. One or two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide often makes a cat vomit up the contents of its stomach so if your cat recently ate some chocolate this can rid its body of it and any wrappers that may have also been consumed.

Getting a cat to drink hydrogen peroxide can be difficult though, especially if you don’t have a syringe at home, so it is often recommended to bring your cat into the animal hospital as soon as possible.

Once at your veterinarian’s office, your cat may need fluid therapy to stay hydrated and blood or urine tests performed. An ECG may also be performed to look for abnormal rhythms of the heart. Symptoms will be treated as needed and a bland diet is typically recommended for the next few days after your cat eats chocolate. If treatment is not received promptly after the ingestion of chocolate then it is possible that death can result if enough theobromine was consumed.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Can A Cat Eat Chocolate: Why Are Those Ingredients So Harmful for Pets?

The two primary culprits, theobromine and chocolate, are stimulants. Discovered in many drink and food items besides chocolate, caffeine becomes toxic as absorbed inside your pet’s body, which leads to increased thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness as well as an increase in heart rate, according to Banfield Pet Hospital. Theobromine leads to likewise symptoms when consumed.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Can Cats Have Chocolate: How Much of It Is Just Too Much?

Can cats eat chocolate? Any quantity of it is too much for your pet. All types of it are harmful to your cat, like baking chocolate and cocoa powder (most toxic because of their high theobromine level), semi-sweet, dark, milk, and also white chocolate, with its low cocoa percentage.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

But the toxicity level depends upon how much he consumes and what type. For a 10 lb. cat, according to Petful, a single little square of baking chocolate may do as much danger to your cat as 23 chocolate drops. You ought to avoid allowing your kitty to consume small quantities of chocolate, as any quantity might cause sickness.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Can Cats Eat Chocolate? What Can you Do If Your Pet Consumes Chocolate?

Cat eat chocolate, now what? First of all, it is important to stay calm.  Felines are extremely in tune with their pet parent’s emotions and are going to respond if they notice you stressed. As you’re showing indications of distress, the pet may also become anxious. Once you’ve composed yourself, contact your vet. Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Just try your best to discuss on the telephone how much chocolate the cat has consumed and underneath what circumstances. The quicker toxicity is treated, the better the odds for your pet’s recovery. Symptoms don’t always immediately show; therefore, even if your cat shows no indications of poisoning, it’s still vital that you act quickly.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate Poisoning Symptoms in Cats

Can Cats Eat Chocolate? | Innovet PetPoisoning in cat symptoms may vary vastly depending upon the individual pet.

If your feline shows any of the following symptoms, immediately contact a vet.

  • Coma
  • Cardiac failure
  • Muscle twitching/tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal/fast heart rate
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Am I Able to Induce Vomiting at My Home?

The answer is no, unfortunately. Inducing vomiting in felines isn’t a very safe practice. Some experts suggest offering a canine hydrogen peroxide or an additional substance that induces vomiting as they’ve consumed anything that is poisonous. When provided to felines, hydrogen peroxide produces hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a medical word that is utilized to describe when felines vomit blood. 

Also, hydrogen peroxide may produce ulcers in your cat’s esophagus and stomach; therefore, don’t try to attempt this technique at home. You can instead, get the cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate: What Toxins are Inside of It?

Can cat eat chocolate? The toxic ingredient inside chocolate is referred to as theobromine, a kind of xanthine discovered in cacao. As theobromine exists in all chocolate, which includes white chocolate, it’s most potent in raw cacao and strongest in dark chocolate.

 Xanthine involves a category of alkaloid with an extremely low level of toxicity for human beings yet a high level of toxicity in dogs and cats.  Plants naturally create this alkaloid, which generates a bitter flavor. The flavor is supposed to deter additional herbivores from eating its leaves.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Alkaloids: What Can they Do to Felines?

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Because of its diuretic properties, it increases fluid loss 
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Raise heart rate

Cats do not have the ability to metabolize and digest theobromine the exact same way human beings can. Due to this, theobromine is going to remain inside the feline’s bloodstream for almost twenty-four hours, which wreaks havoc on their internal systems and health.

What Occurs Next?

Stay as calm and collected as you can because felines are highly in tune with their owners’ emotions. Try and keep them calm, cool, and in a peaceful area to assist in keeping the chocolate poisoning symptoms from getting worse.

Your veterinarian might ask that you induce vomiting to assist in preventing your pet from toxin digestion. As you get to the clinic, she or he will conduct tests on the pet, which includes administering fluids for dehydration. The pet’s weight and health in conjunction with the amount and type of chocolate ingested is going to determine which further treatments and tests are needed.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

How to Prevent It from Occurring

Consumption of chocolate is 100% preventable: keep it out of his reach. Felines are unpredictable, curious creatures and enjoy snooping around the kitchen; therefore, secure all chocolate inside a sealed container. Imagine all of the products that may contain chocolate, which includes donuts, brownies, candies, cookies, etc., because it is not only the bars that may make him sick.

It’s especially a fact around holidays such as Halloween. If you are entertaining, put any candy dishes in areas which are hard for your pet to reach then immediately store them after the celebration. If a visitor asks if your cat can consume chocolate, you now are ready to answer with a “no.”

Pet owners enjoy rewarding their cats, and it’s possible to do so safely by sticking with safe kitty treats, made to keep your pet healthy and happy.Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

Treating Chocolate Poisoning in Felines

The vet first will start by inducing vomiting.  If chocolate was already digested, the veterinarian will utilize a liquid type of charcoal that clears it out.  The feline, in doing so, may pass the chocolate without more poison exposure. Because it’s a diuretic, it’ll be critical to keep the cat hydrated.

Intravenous fluids likely will be given, and it is possible to expect that your veterinarian will hold your pet overnight. The initial 24 hours are the most critical while treating chocolate toxicity in felines, yet it may take up to multiple days for a complete recovery.

Even with the use of treatment, there isn’t any guarantee that a feline is going to survive chocolate poisoning therefore, it’s important to keep the cat away from this harmful ingredient. In keeping every bit of chocolate away from your pet, it is possible to prevent any problems from coming up later.

Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

It often can be tempting to share snacks or table scraps with a dog. Because after all, you have a lot to share and your pup is your best friend! But, it’s always better to proceed with extreme care. While the majority of human foods are okay for canines to ingest in tiny amounts, some are highly toxic. Chocolate sits high upon the toxicity list for canines and is among the top dog poisoning causes.

What Makes It Toxic to Canines?

Chocolate contains a couple of substances which may be dangerous to dogs, which includes caffeine and poisonous substance referred to as theobromine. Theobromine is like caffeine in many ways and within larger amounts, it may be toxic to not just dogs yet also human beings. Both caffeine and theobromine stimulate the nervous system and increase heart rate.

While those symptoms show to be safe the majority of the time in human beings, dogs are an entirely different story. Canines metabolize theobromine at a slower pace than people and, because of this, even a fairly small quantity may be toxic. The risks related to canine intake of chocolate usually depend on the quantity and type of chocolate eaten, as well as, the dog’s weight. Different kinds of chocolate have various concentrations of caffeine and theobromine.

A rule of thumb for knowing where chocolate falls upon the dog toxicity meter is that the more bitter and darker the chocolate, the more toxic. Dry cocoa powder includes the most toxic to canines and has the greatest theobromine concentration. The list continues on from most toxic down to least toxic with baker’s, semi-sweet, dark, milk, and white chocolate.

It’s vital that you keep in mind that products which contain cocoa powder or chocolate also can be toxic to canines, which includes pudding, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, and desserts. For instance, 8 oz. of milk chocolate might make a sixty-pound dog sick, whereby, as little as an ounce of baker’s chocolate might poison him.

The age and weight of dogs also can impact how they respond after chocolate intake. One typical guideline regarding dog weight against chocolate intake is that usually the larger or heavier the pup, the less the respective impact might be felt. Using the exact same example above, if a five or ten-pound dog ingested 8 oz. of milk chocolate, it might result in substantial poisoning.

What You Can Do If Your Pup Consumes Chocolate – Can a Cat Eat Chocolate?

If you think your pup has eaten chocolate, immediately call your vet. If your vet clinic isn’t available, it’s also possible to contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 for any suggestions. It’s helpful to be ready with all medications and medical history the pup might be taking as the vet might require this to sift through the symptoms.

Depending upon the size of the dog and the type and quantity of chocolate which was ingested, the vet might ask that you immediately bring your dog in or simply observe him for any indications of his condition growing worse.

If your dog ate chocolate less than two hours before you noticed, the vet might ask that you bring him in so they’re able to induce vomiting and provide him several doses of activated charcoal. Such charcoal removes the toxins out from the body before they’re absorbed inside the bloodstream.

If the dog’s case is more serious, the vet might have to offer more treatment, like fluids through an IV, to ameliorate the impact of the chocolate poisoning. If there are any concerns or questions, it’s always suggested to bring your pet immediately to the veterinarian office.

Understanding a Dog’s Digestive System

Canines have digestive systems which are thoroughly different from human beings. In people, the saliva and jaw shape start breaking foods down instantly inside the mouth. Canine mouths are made for tearing and crushing, while their saliva is designed more for destroying bacteria than breaking food down, which is the reason why they’re able to consume raw meat and additional things that might send most people to the hospital.

The majority of the digestion occurs in the dog’s stomach, in which food enters in chunks. The dog’s stomach acids are almost 3 times more potent than the average human being’s stomach acid; therefore, they’re able to break food down that’s virtually swallowed whole. From mouth to colon, food sources take around ten hours to digest inside the dog’s body, yet dogs still can succumb to diarrhea and vomiting.

As unpleasant as it may be, vomiting is a natural instinct for humans and animals alike. It is a way to empty the stomach of indigestible or otherwise undesired substances, which keeps it from getting further inside your system.

It also can happen as the dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract is irritated or because of any type of colonic stimulus. Diarrhea oftentimes happens as that indigestible or unwanted substances make its way completely through the pup’s digestive system.

But diarrhea and vomiting alike have various causes, some severe, some less severe.

What Can You Do When Your Pet Vomits?

For infrequent or occasional vomiting:

  1. Do not give your dog any food for the following twelve hours. It’s possible to offer him up to three tablespoons of water every thirty minutes or give ice cubes to munch on and lick.
  2. Reintroduce his water bowl after twelve hours
  3. Give bland food. Most folks go with cooked chicken and white rice, yet any combination of starch and lean meat will work. Keep the ratio to around 1-part lean meat to every 5-parts starch.
  4. Begin to feed your pup a couple of teaspoons of the rice and chicken. If he’s able to keep it down, feed the dog a little every 2 hours.
  5. If vomiting ceases, it’s possible to start feeding your pet his usual food the following day.

For more serious cases of vomiting:

  1. Take away all food that your pet can get to.
  2. Inspect the dog for indications of shock and/or dehydration, which include pale gums and skin, collapse, coma, or abnormal disposition.
  3. If your pet exhibits any serious symptoms, immediately take him to the veterinarian.

It isn’t always simple to deny your furry friend something they might beg for. But, as it’ll come to chocolate, you never should compromise. Chocolate is very toxic to dogs and may lead to extreme sickness and in some instances, death. Like many human beings, dogs like the taste of chocolate and if they see some, they might not stop consuming it until nothing remains.

It’s better to store the treats or chocolate that contain chocolate derivatives, like hot chocolate mix or cocoa powder, in a closed-door pantry or high shelf. Also keep in mind to remind house guests or children to keep all chocolate out of the dog’s reach and not to leave anything on purses, tables, or countertops. The following time your dog gives you those adorable puppy eyes, forego the chocolate and instead toss him a doggy treat!