Happy Valentine’s Day – but watch out for the chocolate!

By February 13, 2017 Seasonal

Hello all my favorite Humans. It’s me Purr’ll again. I have missed all of you! I cannot believe that Valentines Day is here. It is such a sweet tradition for all you Humans. How many of you get chocolate and special treats and/or flowers on this special day? Well, that brings me to a very important message…chocolate toxicity. At this time of year, my Human Team here at Blue Cross Animal Hospital tends to get a lot of calls about dogs and sometimes even us cats getting into their special sweet stash. Since we dogs and cats have such sensitive noses, they can very easily sniff out those kind of goodies from the best hiding spots! Although their main concern at the clinic is the chocolate itself, those pesky foil and/or plastic wrappers can cause some nasty stomach upsets.

You probably already know that chocolate is toxic. It’s because it contains a stimulant called theobromine, that has chemical properties similar to caffeine. My friends at Blue Cross have an article all about chocolate toxicity on the clinic website, so I don’t have to write everything down here. I had my Mommy help me put what she called a ‘hyperlink’ here so that you can read ALL ABOUT IT.

Different types of chocolate contain different levels of the toxic chemical, with white chocolate only containing a trace amount, milk chocolate containing lower levels, and that gourmet dark chocolate (or baking chocolate) containing very high levels. A healthy 56 kg or 11 pound dog would probably have some diarrhea, vomiting, and restlessness if it ate a 2 ounce milk chocolate bar. But if the same dog ate just 28 gm or 1 ounce of dark or baking chocolate, it could develop serious toxicity. My mommy says that the risks can be hard to calculate, but to put it into perspective, a small bar of premium dark chocolate would be fatal to a healthy Shih-tzu. AND, the toxic dose of chocolate is lower for a pet that is older or has pre-existing health problems. Scary isn’t it? Do you know the levels of chocolate in YOUR favorite treat?

Even the pet that eats less than the toxic dose can become ill, depending on how many of your treats they ate, and how much fat, sugar, and other fruits were in the treat. Eating too many sugary or fatty treats can lead to pancreatitis, which also causes vomiting and diarrhea.

So please be careful where you stash your Valentine’s goodies, and remember that chocolate can prove just as irresistible to pets! Other hidden dangers with Valentine’s Day include sugar substitutes such as xylitol (click here for an article), and flowers such as roses or lilies.

So if you want to get me (or your furry friend) a Valentine’s Day gift, a squeaky toy that says I LUV U, a catnip mouse or a treat we already enjoy that is dog and cat safe would be best!

Luv and Kisses (but not the chocolate ones!). Purr’ll