As we are in the midst of the holiday season, bring on the baked goods and treats! With tempting offers of goodies greeting us in every store and online promotion, it’s no coincidence that many homes are fully stocked with cookies, nuts, and candy — especially chocolate.

While we humans can indulge in our favorite chocolates during the holidays, our four-legged family members simply cannot. Chocolate can be very toxic to pets, particularly dogs, since it contains caffeine and a naturally-occurring substance called theobromine.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets are similar to a human who has had too much caffeine: increased heart rate and restlessness, but animals can also experience nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. More alarming symptoms include high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, tremors, and seizures.

If your dog or cat starts exhibiting the symptoms stated above and you suspect they have eaten chocolate, bring them to Westfield Veterinary Group immediately. Our emergency care team will begin appropriate treatment based on the level of chocolate toxicity and severity of symptoms.

The level of toxicity and severity of symptoms depends on what type of chocolate was consumed, how much, and your pet’s weight. It takes far less chocolate to cause adverse effects in a smaller cat than a larger dog. Another factor is the type of chocolate. In many cases, white chocolate causes fewer problems than dark chocolate or baking cocoa.

But, never forget that none of the above are good for our furry friends. The best advice is to keep anything that contains chocolate out of the reach of your pet, no matter how much they whine, beg, and flash those puppy dog eyes. There are plenty of safe and healthy treats you can give your pet this holiday season.

Chocolate isn’t the only substance that is poisonous to pets. Alcohol, marijuana, and other items that contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – such as edibles and similar products – are also quite dangerous to pets. If you believe your dog or cat has ingested any amount of alcohol or THC, please seek veterinary medical attention immediately. At Westfield Veterinary Group, our first priority is to help pets in need, so please don’t be shy about bringing your pet in if they’ve gotten into “this kind” of trouble.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is an excellent resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including the holidays. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply – but are free with Home Again microchip registrations available through Westfield Veterinary Group.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, or another poisonous item, bring them to WVG immediately. Our Union location is open from 7 am-11 pm throughout the holiday season for pet emergencies, including toxicity cases. Call us at (908) 777-8387 to let us know you are on the way. We will discuss our curbside services and COVID-19 protocols before your arrival.