As far as I am concerned there are 2 kinds of holidays: regular and crazy chocolate binge. Easter will mark the second Chocolate binge holiday of 2016 (I know Valentine’s day is the first but I really needed to talk about teeth). Many of our doggy friends share my sentiments about chocolate but the problem is that chocolate doesn’t love them back.  In fact chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats.  Oh, chocolate why do you hurt those that love you? Anyway, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the most dangerous kinds of chocolate and what signs to be concerned about.

The toxic compound in chocolate is called theobromine.  The toxic effects of chocolate depend on how much theobromine your dog gets and the weight of your pet.  The more actual high quality chocolate is in a product the more theobromine and the more dangerous. This means that dark Baker’s chocolate and chocolate bars that are 70-80% Cacao are the most dangerous for your pet and less is needed to make them very ill. The more milk ingredients and fillings (caramel, fruit, cookie, candy coating, nuts etc.) in a product the more it will take to make your furry chocoholic show signs of toxicity –though they may make them ill for other reasons. Oh yeah… and that Cacao bean mulch for your garden in the spring…that can be toxic too and some dogs will eat it.

Our Furry kids can be very sneaky when it comes to eating forbidden foods. They are known to open cupboards and steal things off tables so it is good to know the warning signs so you can get help immediately.  If you see any of the following get help right away: shaking, fast respiration and heart rate, vomiting (often chocolaty looking and may contain wrappers), diarrhea, stiff muscles, dilated pupils and excitement. These are the signs early on. If a pet’s condition is advanced you may see weakness, coma and death.

If you suspect your pet has gotten into chocolate the best thing to do is to call the clinic right away. We can administer medication to induce vomiting before the toxin absorbed. We can also give medication to block the absorption of chocolate that has already reached the digestive tract  – if we get your pet in early, before they show signs. If your pet has already started showing signs then treatment is much more intensive and requires hospitalization. There is no direct antidote for chocolate so treatment is directed at managing the clinical signs until the body can eliminate the toxin.

Wishing you a safe and Chocolaty Easter.

About the Author

Dr Elizabeth LaytonView all posts by Dr Elizabeth Layton
Dr Layton graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2005 and began work in mixed animal practice. Dr. Layton’s special interest is dentistry but she enjoys a variety of internal medicine and surgical cases.


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