Cats are pretty sneaky, and if your cat likes to hangout in the kitchen while you bake, or open the cupboards, you’ve likely had to stop them from eating a few things that aren’t good for them. We all know that chocolate is bad for both cats and dogs, but what happens if your cat eats a chocolate chip?
Depending on the type of chocolate, one chocolate chip likely isn’t a cause for concern. If it was bakers chocolate or dark chocolate, you may need to monitor your cat and contact your vet, as these contain higher levels of theobromine which is natural alkaloid found in cocoa plants.
In this article we will discuss the different types of toxicity in chocolate, the symptoms of chocolate poisoning, what level is likely lethal for your cat, and the best steps to take if you know your cat has consumed chocolate.
Table of Contents
Is All Chocolate Poisonous For Cats?
Cats shouldn’t have any kind of chocolate, although the type that is least concerning is milk chocolate as it doesn’t contain significant amounts of theobromine or caffeine. However, milk, dark, baking, and semi-sweet chocolate all contain both of these ingredients, and can potentially be lethal to your cat depending on how much they consume.
Theobromine and caffeine are fairly similar, however the caffeine is generally pretty fast-acting and your cat will feel the effects of it right away. Theobromine is absorbed much more slowly into the cat’s system.
These will both cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, restlessness and an increased heart rate. At certain levels caffeine and theobromine can cause death.
What Are The Different Chocolate Toxicity Levels?
The Spruce Pets provides a table that shows that minimum amount of different chocolate types that can be toxic to a cat weighing 8 lbs:
Minimum Amount That Can Cause Chocolate Poisoning In 8 lb. Cat
As you can see, only white chocolate doesn’t pose a concern. This is because white chocolate doesn’t actually contain cocoa solids.
However, baking chocolate, dark chocolate, and semisweet only take a small amount for your pet to potentially be affected. Baking chocolate is the worst culprit as it only takes 0.2 oz for a cat to experience side effects, however baking chocolate generally doesn’t come in chocolate chip form.
If you came to this article you are likely more concerned about either dark, semisweet, or milk chocolate which are common types used for chocolate chips.
It is also important to note that all pets react differently to caffeine and theobromine, this means your cat may take less or more to experience negative effects. Just because your cat didn’t ingest an amount deemed toxic by this chart doesn’t mean that you’re 100% in the clear.
How Many Chocolate Chips Are In An Ounce?
So, if your cat only consumed one chocolate chip you may be wondering where that falls on the toxicity level?
An ounce of chocolate chips contains about 48 chips. This means your cat would need to consume around 24 dark or semisweet chocolate chips to experience chocolate poisoning, or 48 milk chocolate chips. At least, according to our chart.
However, if you aren’t sure on the amount consumed by your pet, it is always best to act on the cautious side considering how life threatening chocolate can be when it is consumed.
One chocolate chip is likely not of concern, but you should always contact your vet and explain the situation to get an expert opinion from someone who knows your pet and their health condition.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chocolate Toxicity?
If you’re concerned your pet has consumed chocolate you need to know what signs to look for that point to chocolate toxicity.
Some common symptoms of chocolate toxicity include: Restlessness
- Increased rate of breathing,
- Increased heart rate,
- Heightened temperature,
- Increased thirst, and
- Muscle rigidity.
In extreme cases chocolate consumption can lead to death.
If you notice these signs in your cat and assume they have consumed chocolate it is recommended you contact your vet as soon as possible.
How Is Chocolate Toxicity Treated?
The first step you should make is to call your vet. If your cat has consumed chocolate outside of your vet’s normal hours, you can see if there are any emergency 24-hour vets located near you and call them, or call an animal poison control hotline to talk to a veterinarian professional.
The vet will either recommend you bring the pet in so they can induce vomiting. If the chocolate consumption is caught quick enough your vet may be able to have your cat purge the toxic ingredients from their system and your cat will be in the clear.
If you don’t live close enough to a vet that is open in your area it may be recommended that you attempt to induce vomiting at home. In general, one or two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide will make your cat vomit. However, it can be difficult to get a cat to consume hydrogen peroxide without a syringe to inject it into their throat.
It is always recommended that you bring your cat into the vet to receive professional treatment whenever possible.
Additional treatment your vet may do is fluid therapy in order to help your cat stay hydrated, and ECG to look for abnormal heart rhythms, or blood and urine tests.
These tests may be repeated to ensure theobromine and caffeine are leaving your cat’s system.
If the chocolate ingestion is not caught in time to be resolved by vomiting it is possible that your cat could die, however this is generally only in extreme cases, not in the case of one chocolate chip being consumed.
Final Thoughts: One Chocolate Chip Likely Not A Cause For Concern
Unless the chocolate chip consumed by your cat was bakers chocolate you likely don’t have any reason to fear for your pets life. They may experience some symptoms of chocolate poisoning, but should have passed the theobromine and caffeine from their system within 72 hours.
You should monitor your pet during this time to ensure that their symptoms are not worsening. And, as always you should always contact your veterinarian as soon as your cat consumes chocolate so you have a plan of action.
But, unless your cat has a health condition that causes them to be more susceptible to chocolate poisoning, a single chocolate chip shouldn’t do your pet any lasting harm.