What is Chocolate Poisoning?
There are chemicals found in chocolate that causes a condition known as toxicosis, and those chemicals are caffeine or theobromine. Chocolate poisoning leads to issues such as vomiting, pancreatitis, seizures and even death. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are very toxic for pets, but you should keep all types of chocolate away from your four-legged friend.
Chocolate poisoning occurs when cats consume a large amount of chocolate. The level of toxicity is usually mild to severe in cats and dogs, and the toxicity depends on the amount and type of chocolate they consume. A high level of toxicity can lead to hyperactivity, physical ailments and death.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
Consuming a small or large amount of chocolate can cause a reaction in cats. You may notice your cat displaying symptoms of chocolate poisoning within an hour of ingestion. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually include the following:
- Frequent Urination
- Muscle Tremors
- Abnormal Heart Rhythms
- Elevated Heart Rate
Causes of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
Ingestion is the main cause of chocolate poisoning in cats. Your cat may suffer from chocolate poisoning after consuming the following items:
- Dark Chocolate
- Baking Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
- Baked Goods
- Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
- Chocolate Flavored Multi-Vitamins
- Cocoa Bean Mulch
- Candy Wrappers
Be sure to keep any food, vitamins or items containing chocolate or cocoa beans away from your cat. It is important to take your cat to the veterinarian immediately after consuming chocolate.
Diagnosis of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
The first way to figure out if your cat has ingested chocolate is to check for chocolate breath, chocolate on their fur, empty trays and candy wrappers. You may even catch your cat consuming the chocolate. It is important to contact your veterinarian immediately with the cat’s weight and the amount of chocolate consumed. You should also figure out if the chocolate contained other ingredients that are toxic to cats, such as raisins and macadamia nuts. Let your veterinarian know if your cat has consumed chocolate with these ingredients.
The appointment may start with a complete physical exam of your cat. You can help your veterinarian diagnose your cat by bringing a sample of their vomit to the appointment. Your veterinarian will also diagnose your cat by checking for alkaloids in the blood serum, stomach contents and urine. Caffeine and theobromine are usually found in the blood and stomach contents of your cat, and your veterinarian can detect these chemicals by giving your cat a blood test. Your veterinarian may perform an ECG to check for an elevated heart rate and abnormal heart rhythm.
Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
The type of treatment depends on the size of your cat and how much chocolate they have consumed. Your cat may receive the following treatments for chocolate poisoning:
- Induce Vomiting: Your veterinarian may induce vomiting if your cat has ingested the chocolate within the last two hours. This is done to remove the particles that are still in their stomach.
- Activated Charcoal: Your cat may be given an activated charcoal to prevent their upper intestines and stomach from absorbing any more chocolate. The activated charcoal is a liquid that is given to your cat by mouth.
- Medication: Your veterinarian may give your cat medication to control the muscle tremors and seizures caused by chocolate poisoning. Your cat may also need medication to regulate their heart and respiratory activity.
- Ventilator: A ventilator may be necessary to help stabilize respiratory activity. Your cat will be sedated during this treatment.
- Hospitalization: There is always a chance your cat will need to be hospitalized for several days. During their hospital stay, your cat will receive intravenous fluids to help remove the chemicals from their body. The staff also uses cardiac monitoring to keep track of their heart rate and rhythm. Your veterinarian may also have to administer a urinary catheter to ensure their bladder remains empty. This keeps the caffeine from be reabsorbed by their bladder wall.
Recovery of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
Follow-up appointments are necessary for making sure your cat is recovering from chocolate poisoning. You may have to take your cat to the litter box frequently to ensure they are emptying their bladder. It is important to keep all types of chocolate away from your cat. You should also make sure your cat cannot access empty plates, trays, and wrappers from chocolate.
It may take your cat several days to recover from the effects of chocolate poisoning. Unfortunately, not all pets survive chocolate poisoning. This is why it is important to take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as symptoms appear.