Chocolate Poisoning In Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment Options
Chocolate is highly toxic to cats and can lead to serious medical problems for your cat if even a small quantity is ingested. Theobromine, a chemical compound found in chocolate, can put stress on your cat's cardiovascular and nervous systems and cause heart failure or put them into a coma. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options associated with chocolate toxicity in cats:
If your cat eats chocolate they can experience the following symptoms:
- Distended abdomen
- Overactive bladder
- Fast breathing
- Stiff muscles
To diagnose chocolate poisoning, your vet will take blood and urine samples, but you can speed up the process by taking a sample of vomit to the surgery to be tested for theobromine. A blood sample is tested for the presence of toxic alkaloids, and your cat's urine can show kidney damage, which often occurs when poison has been ingested. A urinalysis can also determine if your cat is suffering from dehydration, which is not uncommon during bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. If your vet suspects cardiovascular damage, they will check the condition of your cat's heart by carrying out an echocardiogram. This is a diagnostic imaging procedure that allows your vet to spot abnormalities.
Your vet will recommend a course of treatment based on the severity of your cat's symptoms and how long before treatment the chocolate was eaten, if known. Treatment can include the following options:
- Induced Vomiting - This treatment is effective if carried out within a few hours of the chocolate being ingested. The goal is to purge your cat's body of the poisonous substance before it's absorbed into their bloodstream, and vomiting is induced with oral or intravenous emetic drugs.
- Fluids - If your cat is dehydrated, administering intravenous fluids will reduce the stress on their kidneys and can also help their kidneys process the poison. Your cat's kidney function will be checked by testing their blood, and this will ensure they have received enough fluids to balance their electrolytes and maintain the health of their kidneys.
- Activated Charcoal - This treatment can be given as a tablet or a liquid and prevents the poison from being absorbed. The activated charcoal travels through your cat's gastrointestinal tract and binds to toxins. The toxins are then removed from your cat's body when they have a bowel movement.
Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten chocolate, as prompt treatment can prevent damage to your cat's organs.