Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

How will you spend your Valentine’s day? Going out for a romantic dinner, eating chocolates, or smelling a fresh bouquet of roses? This year, I am spending Valentine’s day with my furry valentines – going for a hike with Glia and cuddling on the couch with Frisko. We hope that each of our readers has something special planned for their own four-legged companions.

Feeling hard-pressed to come up with ideas on how to celebrate Valentine’s day with your pets? Check out Impurrfect Life’s infographic.

Valentine’s day chocolates:

While there are many fun Valentine’s day activities that can be enjoyed with pets, there are also risks to pets that can increase on holidays. One of the biggest risks to pets on any holiday involves the food. And on Valentine’s day, the big risk is chocolate toxicity.

A couple weeks ago, Pawsitively Intrepid added a post about human foods that pets shouldn’t eat. As stated there, chocolate is probably the most widely known food toxicity for pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. So a dog or cat that consumes white chocolate is at a much lower risk than a dog that eats baker’s chocolate.

Other risks associated with chocolates include the nuts or fruits added to the sweet treats. For example, macadamia nuts and raisins are both toxic to pets independent of chocolate.

What happens if your pet eats chocolate?

If it is a low enough dose, nothing. However, if your pet eats enough to cause symptoms, the first signs are typically vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. This can progress to tremors, seizures, hyperthermia (high temperature) and a racing heartbeat. Ultimately, a high enough dose can result in death. Signs typically occur within 6 to 12 hours and can take up to 4 days to resolve completely.

How do you know if your pet ate enough to cause toxicity?

I like to use a handy chocolate toxicity calculator, like the one posted below, as a quick reference guide. I also have a “chocolate toxicity wheel” in my house and at work to help quickly ascertain whether or not a dog has eaten enough to cause significant concern. The equivalent of the “toxicity wheel” is also available as a mobile app.

Calculator provided by www.AskAVetQuestion.com.

Despite the widespread availability of chocolate toxicity calculators, I always recommend confirming your results with a veterinarian.  I have yet to find a quick calculator for cats. But luckily, cats do not find chocolate as appealing as dogs.

What to do if your pet ingests a toxic dose of chocolate?

Call your veterinarian. They will help you figure out how to treat your pet for the best possible outcome.

More information about chocolate toxicity in pets can be found at Veterinary Partner. If you are looking for more in-depth information than what is presented on Veterinary Partner – check out this toxicology article by the ASPCA.

Remember, keep your pets safe and have a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Let us know how you are celebrating with your pet in the comments section below.

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