Pet Tip: Chocolate toxicity in dogs

Most people already know that chocolate is not something that dogs should eat, but the dogs themselves don’t know that. They love the smell of chocolate, and for that reason we see a lot of dogs coming (to the vet) because they have gotten into the Halloween, Christmas or Easter candy or have been snooping into backpack purses etc. and finding their owners’ chocolate stash. Most chocolate also contains caffeine, which is also toxic to dogs, so the combination of caffeine and theobromine in the chocolate can add together to create the toxic situation seen in our pets.

The following charts show how many milligrams of caffeine and theobromine are in products that our pets can be exposed to:

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed and reaches highest levels in the blood stream within 30-60 minutes. Theobromine is more slowly absorbed and its highest level in the blood stream is reached after about 10 hours. The three main systems affected are the nervous system, the heart and the gastrointestinal tract.Restlessness, hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, increased drinking and urination are some early signs of toxicity that can start to occur within the first two hours, after six hours and, depending on the size of the dog and the dose ingested, the prognosis can be guarded. Ultimately seizures, kidney failure and death can occur. If a pet has pre-existing liver or heart disease they can be more severely affected.

If you see your dog eating caffeine or chocolate-containing products, if you find chewed wrappers or packaging or you find vomit or diarrhea at home that smells like chocolate, take them to your veterinarian right away. If you have more than one dog it is always best to take them all in, unless you witnessed the ingestion, to make sure all are treated as a precaution.

Remember, even if your pet has eaten chocolate, been made to vomit at the veterinarian’s and is doing fine, he or she will still want to eat more chocolate. So keep those treats well away from furry paws.

Categories: KUSI