Chocolate is a delicious treat that many people enjoy, but it can be very dangerous for dogs. Chocolate poisoning in dogs is not uncommon and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Chocolate contains theobromine which affects your dog's heart and nervous system. It also causes vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and in some cases, death. This blog article will discuss the dangers of chocolate poisoning in dogs and what you can do to protect your dog.
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?
Theobromine is the primary ingredient in chocolate that is dangerous to dogs. This compound affects the heart and nervous system and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and even death at high doses. Theobromine is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is a key factor in chocolate poisoning in dogs. In dogs, liver recirculation of theobromine prolongs its half-life to 18 hours. This means that theobromine can remain in the system for long periods of time, up to 36 hours. The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs are dose-dependent; the more chocolate and therefore theobromine consumed, the greater the severity of symptoms.
What types of chocolate are toxic to dogs?
All types of chocolate are dangerous for dogs, but dark chocolate is the most toxic as it contains high amounts of theobromine. Although chocolate contains varying levels of theobromine and cocoa powder is the most harmful. Bakers chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate also contain high levels of theobromine. Chocolate-covered espresso beans, nuts and raisins are also dangerous for dogs. In comparison, milk chocolate contains lower levels of theobromine.
How Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs Occurs
Chocolate poisoning in dogs usually occurs when they eat chocolate products, such as candy bars, baking chocolate or cocoa powder. Theobromine is found in all types of chocolate, but it is most concentrated in dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. Most cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs are accidental with the dog indiscriminately and unknowingly obtaining access to chocolate that has been left out.
What is the toxic dose for chocolate poisoning dogs?
To determine how much chocolate is poisonous or toxic to dogs, we must first understand how much, in milligrams, of theobromine is in each type of chocolate. Below are estimates of the theobromine concentrations per type of chocolate:
Cocoa powder - 800mg / ounce
Dark baking chocolate - 400mg / ounce
Semi-sweet chocolate - 150mg / ounce
Milk chocolate - 60mg / ounce
White chocolate - <1mg / ounce
Determine or estimate how many ounces of chocolate your dog consumed. Next, estimate how many milligrams (mg) of theobromine your dog would have consumed based on the guidelines listed above. Now divide the number of milligrams ingested by your dog's body weight in kilograms (kg).
Doses <20 mg/kg of body weight are unlikely to result in clinical signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs. Anything higher than 50 mg/kg of body weight of theobromine ingestion warrants veterinary attention. The lethal dose is estimated at around 100 mg/kg of body weight of theobromine ingested. If you are unsure in any way, please contact your veterinarian for advice.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs?
The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the amount of chocolate consumed. Mild symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and hyperactivity. More severe symptoms include seizures, heart problems and even death. The main effects of theobromine in dogs are related to the central nervous system (CNS) and cardiovascular system. Initial clinical symptoms include vomiting, restlessness, increased thirst and urination. As the symptoms progress, hyperexcitability, agitation, tremors and even seizures can occur.
How do veterinarians diagnose chocolate poisoning in dogs?
Veterinarians will perform a physical examination and take a complete medical history to determine if chocolate poisoning is the cause of your dog's symptoms. Chocolate poisoning in dogs can be confirmed by measuring the theobromine concentration in the dog's blood or urine but this test is not routinely performed as the diagnosis is often revealed during the physical examination, clinical signs and history.
With the physical examination of your dog, your veterinarian will evaluate the cardiovascular system to detect typical signs such as tachycardia (elevated heart rate), cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperthermia (elevated body temperature). In severe cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs, your veterinarian may find bradycardia (low heart rate) and hypotension (low blood pressure).
What is the treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs?
If your dog has consumed chocolate, the first step is to try to determine how much chocolate was ingested and when it was eaten. This information will help your veterinarian determine the best course of treatment. Treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs typically involves inducing vomiting and then providing supportive care. Vomiting is typically induced by administering a medication called apomorphine. If the dog is not responding to these treatments, activated charcoal may be given to help absorb any remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.
Your veterinarian will also provide supportive care, which may include intravenous fluids, cardiac monitoring and treatment for excitability and tremors. As theobromine can reabsorb back into the body via the urinary bladder, intravenous fluids to increase the excretion and allow for frequent urinations are important to the success of treatment.
What is the prognosis for chocolate poisoning in dogs?
The prognosis for chocolate poisoning in dogs is generally favourable if treatment is initiated early. If the dog has ingested a large amount of dark baking chocolate, however, then the prognosis may be more guarded. Death from chocolate poisoning in dogs is uncommon but can occur without prompt treatment.
It is important to remember that any type of chocolate is potentially dangerous for dogs and should be kept out of their reach. Chocolate should also not be given to dogs as a treat or snack. Keep your dog safe by being aware of the dangers of chocolate poisoning and keeping chocolate out of their reach.
Chocolate is one of the most dangerous food items for dogs and can cause serious health problems. It's important to be aware of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs and how to treat it. Chocolate should be kept out of reach of dogs to prevent any accidental ingestion. The prognosis for dogs that eat chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate, how much they ate, their weight, and when treatment is started. For more information on chocolate poisoning in dogs, please reach out to your veterinarian.