Chocolate Poisoning

Chocolate Poisoning

I’ve heard that chocolate is toxic to dogs? Is this true? 

While rarely fatal, chocolate ingestion often results in significant illness. Chocolate contains the alkaloid theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. It’s used typically as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and a smooth muscle relaxant.

How much chocolate is poisonous to a dog? 

Cooking or baking chocolate and high quality dark chocolate contains between 15-20 mg of theobromine per gram while common milk chocolate only contains about 1.5 mg/gm. Toxic doses of theobromine are reported at 100mg/kg and fatalities occur at around 200mg/kg. the amount of toxic theobromine varies based on the type of chocolate (dark to white)

What are the clinical signs of poisoning?

For many dogs common signs related to overstimulation include vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, restlessness, increased thirst, excessive urination & muscle spasms. Increased heart rate & abnormal behaviour are also common. Sudden death may occur in older dogs with pre existing heart disease.

Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take twelve hours to develop. Once theobromine is absorbed, it may remain there for 24 hours causing damage. It is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

What is the treatment for chocolate poisoning?

Treatment is based on the amount and type of chocolate eaten. If treated early, removal of the chocolate by inducing vomiting may be all that is necessary. In cases where the chocolate was ingested several hours earlier, activated charcoal may be administered every four hours for the first 24-36 hours to reduce the continued reabsorption & recirculation of theobromine. Severe cases require sedation and/or anaesthesia to control clinical signs.

The team at Jacobs Well Veterinary Surgery offer you and your best friend a team of specialised professionals to ensure the best care each time you visit us.

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