Why Does My Pet Like Eating The Wrong Foods?

Dog with poisonous foods

\\\ Bad Foods For Pets

A stray ‘moggie’ turned up at our doorstep for the second year running when it began to get cold looking for a warm place to shelter and food. Needleless to say we took the moggie in, renamed him shortly afterwards as ‘Freddie.’

A few days later when sitting on a bed, Freddie was seen tucking into one of the most poisonous foods left lying around by my daughter. Not the best pet, dog or cat food diet!

After rescuing the wrappings and left overs and establishing that he had eaten the tiniest amount, the remaining chocolate bar and wrapper were thrown away safely, out of Freddie’s way. We pointed him into the direction of his kibble. He wasn’t fussed, he appeared to be quite grateful for any food and a loving warm home.

So what is it that makes chocolate so toxic for pets?

Nuts and chocolate

Dogs and cats like tucking into any available food as we all know, particularly when it smells interesting, new and gorgeous, and will help themselves if chocolate is left lying around. Scavenging types of dogs are generally the dogs most popular at eating dangerous foods such as Labradors and Jack Russell’s. Even rabbits are now becoming toxicity patients at vets due to the high number being kept indoors.

Research suggests that it is the chemical theobromine contained in the chocolate which is dangerous to pets and other animals. Humans are alleged to be able to tolerate the chemical about 5 times more than pets.

What type of chocolate is the worst?

Cocoa powder and baking chocolate generally contain the most concentrated levels of the chemical. Dark chocolate contains less than cocoa powder and baking chocolate but more of the chemical than white chocolate which contains far less theobromine and may be less harmful but contains much fat content and can still make pets unwell.

One often hears of pet owners stating that their dogs or cats eat chocolate regularly and seem to have no side effects and this may be due to lower concentrates of the theobromine in the bar consumed, and the size of the pet and how much they have actually consumed. Generally, a 20- pound sized dog would need to eat about 1 pound of dark chocolate for a lethal dose.

What are the signs of pet chocolate toxicity?

The signs of chocolate poisoning can initially cause hyperactivity, vomiting and diarrhoea. This can then lead to nervous reactions such as twitching, tremors, fitting, and life-threatening heart problems. It’s best to try and establish how much your pet has actually eaten and contact your vet as soon as possible along with the remains and wrapper. This can help the vet establish the strength of the chemicals contained in the chocolate should your pet go on and develop complications.

If you suddenly find your pet acting strangely especially being hyperactive it may be because they have found a secret stash of chocolate from somewhere and it is still advisable to talk to your vet.

Safe storage

Ours was a typical ‘innocent’ accident, which can so easily happen around any home, and more so particularly around present giving times such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays.

It’s vital to keep chocolate and their wrappers out of reach of your pets. Having a special tin or place in the home where sweets are kept can be an alternative and safe way of keeping sweet hazards out of pets way and include teaching small children that they mustn’t give pets their sweeties as much as they want to share them with their furry friends!

Is chocolate the only food that causes toxicity?

There are numerous foods that humans can eat that cause pets and animals poisoning. Some of the more common for example are grapes, raisins and sultanas, most nuts, alcohol. Thousands of pet toxicity cases are reported yearly to UK vets and many of those cases are simple everyday incidents that occur around the home.

Chocolate and nuts

What to do in any eventuality of a suspected case of pet poisoning

If you suspect your pet has been touching, eating or inhaling anything that may be regarded as suspicious or that may be dangerous consult your local veterinary practice immediately or online vet service, that includes human medicines consumed by pets.

In an emergency help your vet by

  • Producing the left-overs of what may have been eaten, inhaled or what your pet has been in contact with.
  • Produce the wrapper, tin, container of what was eaten, inhaled or your pet exposed to. If a suspected chemical, for example, you should take preventative care when touching and sealing the contents or take veterinary advice if suspected of being a dangerous chemical to both pets and humans.
  • How much you consider they may have eaten or been exposed to.
  • When your pet was exposed, how long ago, minutes, hours or days.
  • How your pet may be unwell, the symptoms showing or not showing.
  • Do not try to make your dog sick. This can cause other complications, which may harm your dog.
  • Do not wait for your pet to become unwell. Vets can treat pets for toxicity but the sooner they are presented with the sick animal, the easier it is likely to be to aid a full recovery.

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