Is chocolate poisonous to dogs?
Chocolate is toxic to dogs and while rarely fatal, it can result in significant illness. This is because of theobromine, a substance in chocolate which behaves very similar to caffeine. The reason for its toxicity is because dogs are unable to effectively metabolise the theobromine and caffeine. This makes them vulnerable to becoming unwell.
How much chocolate is toxic to dogs?
The amount of toxicity depends on the amount, type and body weight of your dog. The quantity of theobromine depends on whether it is dark, milk or white chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate the higher the concentration of theobromine. Examples of this are bitter and dark chocolate types include baking chocolate, gourmet dark chocolate and chocolate powder. Milk chocolate also contains theobromine and is the most popular chocolate type in households. White chocolate has no theobromine, but the high levels of fat and sugar can lead to pancreatitis.
Chocolate toxicity calculator
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What are the signs of chocolate poisoning?
The signs you will see vary and they will depend on the amount and type of chocolate consumed. The most common signs are vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination and a racing heart rate.
In severe cases, you will see muscle tremors, seizures and sadly heart failure. Be mindful of older pets that eat a large amount of high quality dark or baking chocolate as they have an increased risk of becoming poisoned. Unfortunately, dogs with pre-existing heart disease have been known to go into cardiac arrest. Still, with all these symptoms, the prognosis can be more serious with additional complications from vomiting.
Chocolate toxicity treatment
Treatment depends on both the amount and type of chocolate eaten. Early treatment involves the veterinarians removing the chocolate from the stomach by administering medications to induce vomiting. Liquid activated charcoal is then given to stop toxins being absorbed in the stomach by binding to them. The body is unable to absorb charcoal, and so the toxins that bind to the charcoal leave the body in the faeces. This works to reduce the likelihood of theobromine absorption. In more severe cases the veterinarians recommend supportive care. This includes staying in hospital for 12 – 24hr for supportive treatment to excrete the theobromine from the system.