Dogs & Chocolate

Dogs and chocolate don’t mix. There are many foods, medications and household chemicals that are toxic to pets and can make your dog very sick or can even be fatal. Chocolate is among the worst.

Ten of the most DANGEROUS substances for dogs

  1. Alcohol
  2. Avocados
  3. Chocolate
  4. Coffee (or any Caffeine)
  5. Fruit with Pits/Seeds
  6. Grapes or Raisins
  7. Macadamia Nuts
  8. Onions or Garlic
  9. Xylitol (Artificial Sweetner)
  10. Yeast Dough

Dogs are known for eating almost anything especially when their owners offer it to them.  Dogs also have an excellent sense of smell making it fairly easy for them to find tasty treats left around the house.

 

Make sure your children know the danger of feeding their pet something that may harm them.

Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao that contain both caffeine and theobromine, substances that can be toxic to animals when ingested.  These two ingredients can lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your dog.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased reflex response
  • Muscular rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac failure and coma are advanced signs

The amount and type of chocolate ingested are the determining factors in the severity of the toxicity. The three types of chocolate that you should be aware of are:

  1. Milk Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  2. Dark Chocolate – Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight is ingested. Severe toxicity results when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for a 20-pound dog).
  3. Baking Chocolate – This type of chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine. Therefore, as little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.1 ounce per pound of body weight).

 

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel and urinalysis. These tests will help determine if there are elevated caffeine or theobromine levels in the body.  An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be performed to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or heart beat conduction.

Treatment

Time is of the essence when an animal consumes a potentially poisonous substance.  You should have your dog seen immediately by a veterinarian.  If the dog is already exhibiting signs of toxicity ask your veterinarian if you should administer anything to inducing vomiting or control seizures.  You may also want to call the National Animal Poison Control Center, a 24 hour help line, at (888)  426-4435.

 

Prevention

It is crucial to your pet’s health to keep chocolate products out of their reach as there is no antidote for chocolate toxicity.