Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs: Symtoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
Cats get all the credit for being curious creatures, but dogs aren’t far behind. Many of us have arrived home to find paper strewn about our living rooms or wastebaskets overturned. Our pets’ antics can be amusing to us at times, but they can also be downright dangerous to them. One such case would be if they were to come across your stash of chocolate and choose to partake. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence.
What Causes the Trouble?
Dogs are far more sensitive than humans to two particular chemicals in chocolate – theobromine and caffeine. The ingestion of chocolate can cause your dog to become sick. In greater amounts, coma or death can occur. The determining factors of how much damage might be done are the dog’s weight, age, and overall health, as well as the type and amount of chocolate consumed. Typically, the darker the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine it contains.
Varying Levels of Chocolate Toxicity
There is some degree of variance involved, but generally, chocolate can be toxic to dogs in the following amounts per pound of body weight:
- Milk Chocolate: Mild indications – .5-.7 ounces or less; Severe symptoms – 2 ounces
- Semi-sweet Chocolate: Mild indications – .15-.3 ounces; Severe symptoms – 1 ounce
- Baker’s Chocolate: Toxic at .1 ounce or less
Although it takes a greater amount of lighter chocolate to cause sickness, dogs should never be fed chocolate.
What are the Signs That My Dog Has Eaten Chocolate?
There are many symptoms that might be observed if chocolate ingestion does occur. Among these are diarrhea and vomiting, tremors, excessive panting, increased urination and body temperature, and increased heart and breathing rates. In more severe cases, when chocolate has been consumed in greater amounts, seizures or even death can occur.
How to Handle Potential Chocolate Poisoning
If you arrive home to find evidence that your pet has gotten into the chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. Try to keep your dog calm and quiet while you relay to your vet the type and amount of chocolate eaten as well as the symptoms being exhibited.
A likely first step will be to induce vomiting to rid the system of as much chocolate as possible. Additionally, your vet might use activated charcoal to limit the amount of toxins that get into your dog’s bloodstream in order to keep the situation from worsening. Urinalysis and blood tests might also be performed. Additionally, your vet might administer IV fluids to help hydration. It’s important to note that there is no antidote to theobromine.
Your vet might wish to monitor your pet afterwards to make sure all is well.
It’s Best to Avoid the Problem from the Start
As is the typically the case in life, prevention is the best course of action. Keep chocolate out of your pet’s reach at all times. Vigilance in this regard will help keep your pooch frolicking for years to come. You don’t want to stifle Fido’s playful personality, but you do want to keep him safe!
We know your dog is a cherished member of your family, so our entire team shares a commitment to provide the best, most compassionate veterinary care for your dog. We offer a variety of dog services to in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area including vaccines, dental care, weight management, senior care, and more. Call (512) 251-BARK today to learn more!