Can Your Pets Eat Chocolate?

Sure, we all know dogs shouldn't eat chocolate -- but what about other animals?

When I write about chocolate, I want to eat it. I think it's just human nature. So as I was sitting down to write this article, I had a few pieces of chocolate and a small carton of chocolate milk on the desk beside me.

Suddenly, out of nowhere came an eight pound rabbit, her smaller sibling right behind her. They landed on the keyboard and began running amok on the desk. By the time I realized what had happened, the big bunny had gobbled down two Hershey's Kisses and the little bunny had actually picked up the carton of milk, jumped off the desk, run across the room -- without spilling any -- and was licking it up out of the spout.

So I started thinking: is chocolate dangerous for bunnies? Did I just kill my rabbit? Or is that a phenomenon limited to dogs?

Why can't dogs eat chocolate, anyway?

Now that I've reclaimed my chocolate milk, I've also learned that chocolate contains toxic components -- toxic to anyone, humans included. But you'd have to eat a lot because the toxicity is directly proportionate to your weight, and the toxic components are only in raw cocoa. So Willy Wonka's oompa loompas, with their tiny size and their diet of cocoa beans, should have dropped dead some time ago.

As for animals, chocolate affects them more strongly because, well, they're smaller than us. And if your dog, bunny, parrot, whatever gets into that ten pound novelty Christmas chocolate from two years ago, you're going to have a serious problem on your hands. But a few tiny morsels won't hurt them -- dogs OR rabbits. (What a relief -- the bunnies are safe!).

So why do vets always tell you that any amount of chocolate is lethal to animals?

People tend to overdo it

Even when vets tell us how to feed our pets, we tend to ignore them. I mean, sugar isn't really good for people, either, but we still eat it. Why shouldn't the pets get treats? For example, my rabbits are under strict orders not to eat bread, which I still give them once a week or so.

So, is it any wonder vets tell us to avoid chocolate altogether? We give it to our pets anyway, even if we think it's deadly. Or they get into it anyway, such as with my thieving rabbits. That seems to show that if vets told us it was okay to give them a little, we'd give them a lot. And that could lead to some very sad stories indeed.

Bottom line? Chocolate isn't good for your pets, but if they get into a tiny bit, it's not going to kill them. Still, you don't really want to share, do you? Keep the chocolate out of reach and enjoy it yourself.