Halloween presents a number of different risks to our pets. One of the most significant is chocolate poisoning. Studies by one insurer estimate that our pets are 25% more likely to get sick from eating chocolate during Halloween week than at any other point during the year. One of the reasons for this is the sheer amount of the stuff that is consumed during this annual holiday. Whether you are handing it out to trick-or-treaters, offering it to guests attending a party or tucking into your own (or your child’s!) haul, there is an abundance of chocolate bought and sold around Halloween.
While many canine owners already have some idea that chocolate is bad for their dogs, far fewer realize that chocolate is just as toxic to our cats too. In some circumstances, chocolate consumption by a feline can even be life-threatening. Here is what you need to know about why to keep chocolate away from your cat this Halloween.
What makes chocolate dangerous to cats?
Chocolate has many different ingredients. One is a compound called theobromine that has many similar qualities to caffeine in that it has a number of effects these include working as a heart stimulant, a diuretic, a blood vessel dilator and a muscle relaxant. Unfortunately, animals including cats can’t metabolize theobromine as well as we can, and so the effects of the compound are significantly heightened. We would have to eat an impossible amount of chocolate for it to have the same effect on us as just a few squares could have on your cat.
How much chocolate is too much?
As with most poisons, exactly how quickly and severely the theobromine in chocolate will affect your cat will depend on her size and how much chocolate she consumed. The type of chocolate she has eaten will also play a part since there are different amounts of theobromine present per gram depending on the cocoa content of the chocolate she has consumed. For example, cooking chocolate which is very dense in cocoa has around 16mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate, making it the most deadly type of chocolate to consume. By comparison, dark chocolate contains just 5.5mg of theobromine per gram, and milk chocolate only 2.4mg.
We often get asked how much chocolate is safe for a cat to eat. The short answer is none at all. There is no telling exactly how quickly your feline will react to the theobromine and how much damage will be done to her body. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid giving your cat any human chocolate at any time – not even on special occasions!
How do I know if my cat has eaten chocolate?
There are a variety of symptoms that could suggest that your cat has consumed theobromine. These include:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Increased thirst
- Excessive panting
- Increased urination
- Racing heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
If you cat exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, seek the advice of your vet straight away. Your pet may be forced to vomit to expel the toxin from her body and given medications to help bock the absorption of the theobromine and subsequent damage to her body.
Why can I buy chocolate cat treats from my pet store?
If you have spent a little time in the treat aisle of your pet store, you may have noticed that there are chocolate cat treats for sale. Although this may be confusing, there is a very good explanation, and this lies in the ingredients used. These treats are made from carob rather than actual chocolate. Carob is a chocolate substitute that is just as tasty for your kitty, but without any of the risks associated with theobromine consumption. If you want to share a chocolate treat with your cat, choose a treat designed specifically for her and not a human chocolate.
If you are worried about your cat eating chocolate this Halloween, you can always consider keeping her indoors with plenty of activities to keep her entertained. For more support and advice on preparing for this Halloween with your cat, please do not hesitate to contact out experienced veterinary team by telephoning or popping into our offices in Boiling Springs, SC.