Chocolate Poisoning for Dogs

Is it true that chocolate is toxic to dogs?

Ingestion of chocolate may result in prominent illness in dogs because it contains the methylxanthine theobromine. Theobromine is akin to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant.

 

How much chocolate is poisonous / toxic to dogs?

Toxic doses of theobromine have been reported to be as low as 20 mg/kg, where agitation, hyperactivity, and gastrointestinal signs (such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea) are symptoms. At doses less than 40 mg/kg cardiac signs can be seen, including a racing heart rate, high blood pressure, or even heart arrhythmias. At doses less than 60 mg/kg, neurological signs such as tremors, twitching, and even seizures can be seen. Fatalities have been seen at around 200 mg/kg or when complications occur.

 

The amount of toxic theobromine varies with each type of chocolate.

The darker and more bitter, the more dangerous. High-quality dark chocolate or cooking/baking chocolate contains about 130-150 mg/kg of theobromine per ounce. Common milk chocolate contains 44-58 mg/kg of theobromine per ounce. Although white chocolate only has 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce, it still poses a threat due to the fat and sugar, which can result in pancreatitis. This means a medium sized dog of 50 pounds could potentially show signs of poisoning after ingesting 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate or 8 oz of milk chocolate.

 

What are symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs?

For many dogs, the most common signs of chocolate poisoning is vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, a racing heart rate, muscle spasms (tremors), and occasionally seizures. Older pets that ingest a large amount of high quality dark or baking chocolate can result in sudden death from cardiac arrest, especially for dogs with preexisting heart disease.

 

What should I do if my dog eats chocolate?

Contact your veterinarian or use a toxicity meter to see if a poisonous amount of chocolate was ingested. If so, your vet may want to induce vomiting. The sooner the theobromine is removed from the body, or the pet is stabilized, the better your pet’s prognosis.


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