October marks the kickoff of the holiday season, as families all over Arizona are decorating their homes for Halloween. Countless parties will be hosted over the next three months in celebration of the holidays. And while it’s a magical time filled with joy for us humans, the holidays can pose an increased danger for your pets. The likelihood of sweet treats, candy, and chocolate laying around in open access to your four-legged companion is much higher over the next three months. If your pet ingests holiday candy or treats, East Valley Animal Hospital is a local veterinary hospital in Gilbert that is equipped to handle any emergency. But we would much rather our pet owners avoid these dangers by staying informed!

Are Holiday Treats Really That Bad for My Pet?

Unfortunately, the stories you’ve heard are true. Even a small amount of chocolate is toxic to your four-legged companion, and the sugars and fats in other candies or treats can cause pancreatitis, a potentially deadly disease for pets. That’s why keeping human food far away from your pet is the safest choice when it comes to their health.

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Pets?

Chocolate contains caffeine, and along with that it also contains a substance called theobromine. Both substances stimulate the central nervous system. In small doses, theobromine is perfectly fine for humans, but when your pet, especially dogs, gets their paws on chocolate, it can be toxic. The reason being is that dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans, and that can negatively impact their heart and nervous system.  

How Much is Too Much?

The best answer is: any chocolate is too much. It can be hard to tell how much your pet has ingested, and therefore, if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, you should call your local veterinary hospital immediately. However, here is a helpful list from the USDA of how much theobromine is in certain kinds of chocolate, broken down per gram.

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: 26.34 mg per gram
  • Baking chocolate (unsweetened): 12.97 mg per gram
  • Dark chocolate (70% cocoa): 8.02 mg per gram
  • Mars Twix (twin bar): 3.99 mg per gram
  • White chocolate: 0 mg per gram

It’s estimated that the amount of theobromine that would be fatal for a dog to ingest is between 50-125 milligrams per pound of the pet’s body weight. So, if you have a 10lb dog, 35-95 grams of baking chocolate could be fatal—which is not very much!

Your Local Veterinary Hospital 

As you can see, if your pet happens to eat even just a little holiday candy or treats, there is no time to waste. Call your local veterinary hospital immediately. At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert AZ, our veterinary doctors and staff are expertly trained and equipped to handle any urgent care needs your pet has. Be careful out there this holiday season, and just in case, be sure to keep our number handy: (480)568-2462.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/07/2018) Logan Brumm (flickr)