We want to protect our furbabies at all costs, but sometimes we don’t realize how vulnerable they are to seemingly harmless things.
Companion pets are at higher risk of toxic exposures because they live with us and have access to more poisonous substances they could accidentally consume. Animals are generally willing to eat most things (especially if they taste good!) and they are unable to let us know that they ate something poisonous or describe how sick they are.
Chocolate and Ibuprofen are some of the top pet toxins. Read on to understand why they’re toxic.
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Petzey: Why is chocolate so poisonous to pets?
Brandon: We know chocolate is one of the most common toxins that animals encounter on a day-to-day basis. But the toxicity associated with chocolate is often misunderstood. The extent of toxicity varies between the type of chocolate consumed as well as the quantity and the size of the animal that consumes it.
The primary component found in chocolate that is toxic to animals is methylxanthines, a group of substances also found in coffee and tea (theobromine and caffeine). White chocolate has much smaller quantities of these compounds, but baker’s chocolate has the greatest concentration. All other types of chocolate have varying levels of methylxanthines present in concentrations between those two.
Petzey: What happens when our pets eat chocolate?
Brandon: When consumed in sufficient quantities, it can cause gastrointestinal signs such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The more concerning effects are those relating to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. These will cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure as well as potentially cause seizures and ultimately death if enough chocolate was consumed.
Petzey: Why is Ibuprofen on the list?
Brandon: This anti-inflammatory medication is a common risk of toxin exposure because it can be left within reach of animals where they can consume it on their own, but also owners will give this drug to their pets when they feel they are in pain. When administered in toxic doses, this drug has multiple mechanisms of action that can cause toxicity for pets.
Petzey: What happens when our pets eat Ibuprofen?
Brandon: Ibuprofen can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that can be followed by gastrointestinal ulcerations. As a secondary effect of inhibited prostaglandin synthesis, there is decreased blood flow to the kidneys which can cause irreversible damage. At even higher doses, animals can experience seizures and death. There are different non-steroidal medications, specific for use in animals that should be used when treating inflammation and pain instead of ibuprofen.
Watch our video Q&A with Brandon to learn more about pet toxins:
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This information is offered for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace traditional veterinary medical advice or create a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. You should not change your pet’s care or treatment on the basis of this information. If you think your pet requires emergency assistance, you should take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.