Dogs and Chocolate: Why chocolate is toxic to dogs, symptoms and treatment of chocolate consumption.
Most dog owners know that chocolate is bad for dogs (and in some cases potentially lethal), but what exactly is it that makes chocolate so deadly?
The culprit is Theobromine, a substance present in all forms of chocolate but which has the highest concentration in dark chocolate, and in unsweetened cooking chocolate. White chocolate has virtually none.
Theobromine affects the central nervous system and acts as a stimulant to the heart. It increases blood pressure and causes nausea and vomiting. In more severe cases it can bring on seizures and ultimately death.
But there’s no need to worry about the tiny morsel you drop on the floor which your dog instantly snaps up.
According to the Merck Veterinary Report on dogs and chocolate, one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight could potentially kill a dog. So, a 70 pound Labrador Retriever would have to eat 3 pounds of milk chocolate for it to be lethal.
The real danger lies with dark chocolate, where deaths have been reported with theobromine levels as low as 115 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
So if you’re hiding a chocolate “stash” somewhere, and particularly if it contains dark chocolate, be sure to keep it where your dog has no chance of getting at it.
Dogs and Chocolate: Signs of Theobromine Poisoning
- Excitement, nervousness or trembling
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination (at high levels of toxicity)
- Muscle spasms
- Coma (rare)
- Death (rare)
Treatment for Theobromine Poisoning
There is no specific antidote for Theobromine, but there are medical treatments available.
However, time is of the essence, so if you suspect that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate, and he is showing any symptoms of Theobromine poisoning, contact your vet immediately.
The vet may instruct you to induce vomiting before bringing him in. This will reduced the levels of Theobromine in his system.
With vet treatment, most dogs recover within 24 to 72 hours. But dogs and chocolate are a lethal combination, so it is best to keep them apart.