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Why is Chocolate Poisonous to Ferrets?

By Dr. Gary Brummett, DVM

Why is Chocolate Poisonous to Ferrets? - By Dr. Gary Brummett, DVM

Most pet owners don’t realize that chocolate can be poisonous to their pet. The primary toxic agent is theobromide, which excites the heart and causes abnormal heart rhythms. Other clinical signs include vomiting, muscle tremors, depression, and increased urination. Death may occur from cardiac arrest. [Chocolate can also affect the kidneys and liver].

Although tolerance varies in small animals, the minimum lethal dose is about .1 oz [1/10 of an ounce] of baking chocolate or 2 oz. of milk chocolate for a ferret weighing 2 lbs. Treatment by your veterinarian is necessary when clinical signs are present, and are based on delaying absorption, hastening elimination, and providing supportive treatment.

As is often the case, prevention is the best path to follow – so keep chocolates out of the reach of your pet!

[intlink id="fair"]This article originally appeared in the May/June 2001 issue of "The F.A.I.R. Report".[/intlink]