Chocolate has benefits for humans. Its high amount of antioxidants make it a food with properties to protect the heart and lower blood pressure. But it also has some problems. Its calorie content is high: 100 grams of dark chocolate is equivalent to about 540 calories, almost a quarter of the recommended daily amount. But here its drawbacks do not end: chocolate is very dangerous for pets. It can even be deadly. We see it below.
The reason why chocolate has its risks for dogs and cats is due to the presence of theobromine, a molecule that the cocoa tree naturally generates during photosynthesis and is necessary for its metabolism and growth. Therefore, it is not an artificial additive of chocolate, but it is dangerous for these animals. It is a stimulant substance similar to caffeine that can cause stomach upset, accelerate your heart rate and even cause dehydration, seizures and, in the most severe cases, death. ” Theobromine is toxic for the pet, since it can cause death if the poisoning is severe,” says the Basque Foundation for Food Safety, in a study on theobromine.
Chocolate: toxic to the pet, not its owner
However, the fact that chocolate is toxic to pets does not imply that it is dangerous for humans, beyond its caloric content, which must be moderated. Our body is capable of metabolizing or transforming theobromine into safe compounds for the body at a relatively high speed, which avoids its danger. The problem is that this degradation process does not occur at the same rate in dogs and cats: their bodies are not fast or fast enough, and theobromine ends up accumulating in the organs of their body, with consequent problems.
Veterinarians at the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom) already warn in a study published in ‘Veterinary Record’ that the risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs and cats increases during the Christmas holidays . And that the felines are less susceptible to eating chocolate, since they are more selective with their food. But, in case of ingestion, it can also be fatal, due to its smaller size. However, “dogs love chocolate”. Therefore, the animal doctor recommends keeping this sweet, so common during the Christmas holidays, out of reach.
In any case, it is advisable to be prepared to go to the vet in case of accidental ingestion. You should know how to provide prior information by phone about the amount taken and have the product label close by. On the food packaging or wrapping there is information on the exact cocoa content, a fact that will also serve as a reference for the veterinarian to make a first assessment of the severity of possible food poisoning .
Neither dark nor white chocolate
Since the dangerous element in chocolate for pets is theobromine, the degree of purity of the cocoa in the product will determine the risk of poisoning. In other words, it is not the same for the dog or cat to eat a cupcake with chocolate chips, and a relatively low content of this element, than an ounce of pure dark chocolate, much more dangerous.
The amount of theobromine in a chocolate depends on the quality and type of cocoa. Thus, while white chocolate hardly contains this substance, a small amount of pure chocolate can be dangerous.
The amount of cocoa that is dangerous for the pet also depends on the size of the animal, since this is what determines the amount of chocolate that its body can accept without posing a risk: a small dog or a cat supports less theobromine than a large animal, and the risk of cocoa poisoning is therefore higher. Therefore, a puppy under one kilo will have problems even if it ingests a small amount of white chocolate. While a dog weighing around 10 kilos will experience a quickening of its heartbeat (theobromine effect) with 300 grams of low purity dark chocolate, 250 grams of pure chocolate could be deadly.
To avoid risks, do not forget that chocolate is not a good treat for dogs and cats at Christmas. And never.