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Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs - Dogs Health care Articles

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs : Dogs Health care Articles; Chocolate is a sweet treat that many people enjoy. Many pet owners would love to share their chocolate bars with their dogs. However, as much as your dog may enjoy the chocolate bar, it is a serious risk to his health. " src="" /> Children and busy households filled with ... Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Chocolate is a sweet treat that many people enjoy. Many pet owners would love to share their chocolate bars with their dogs. However, as much as your dog may enjoy the chocolate bar, it is a serious risk to his health.Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs Children and busy households filled with guests may drop some chocolate onto the floor and right away your dog has eaten it up. Although it may seem harmless at first, in a few short hours, your dog will likely show signs of chocolate poisoning.
Even just a small amount of chocolate may be dangerous to your dog. This depends on the weight and breed, and what kind of chocolate your dog consumed. Different types of chocolate have different levels of danger to your dog. Chocolate poisoning may lead to hyperactivity, muscle spasms, seizures and even cardiac arrest.

Below is a list of potentially dangerous doses of chocolate. Please note that these are approximate amounts only. Every animal has varying levels of sensitivity to theobromine. Caffeine will enhance the toxicity of theobromine. Some brands of chocolate have more caffeine than others (example: Nestle's milk chocolate has 19 mg caffeine per oz versus Hershey's milk chocolate has 8 mg caffeine per oz).

Dog's weight (lbs) Amount of milk chocolate (oz) Amount of chocolate chips (oz) Amount of unsweetened chocolate (oz) Approximate amount of theobromine (mg)
5 4 1.5 0.5 200
10 8 3 1.5 400
20 16 6.5 2.5 900
30 28 9.5 3.2 1300
40 40 13.3 4.5 1800
50 48 16.6 5.5 2250
60 60 20 6.7 2700
75 76 25.2 8.5 3400

Symptoms and Clinical Signs :
The clinical signs include ...

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive urination
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased reflex responses
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)

  • Vomiting and diarrhea can occur 2 to 4 hours after intake. Advanced signs (seizures, heart failure, coma and death) can occur 12 to 36 hours after intake.
  • If a 50 mg/kg dose of theobromine is ingested, cardiotoxicity (heart complications) can be seen. At 60 mg/kg, seizures are possible. Any dose over 40 mg/kg should be considered life-threatening. 100mg/kg is the LD50 meaning that at this dose half of the animals will die. Animals can die from exposures well below the LD50. Pregnant or nursing animals are at risk for teratogenesis of newborns or stimulation of nursing neonates.

Diagnosis :
The patient may have a history of exposure to a methylxanthine. The clinical signs are important, but chocolate toxicity can look similar to many poisonings such as that caused by strychnine, amphetamines, pesticides and some rodenticides. The stomach contents, serum, or urine can be analyzed for the presence of methylxanthine alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine).

So veterinarians will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. These tests will help determine if there is a chocolate/caffeine overdose.

Blood can also be taken to test for theobromine concentrations, while an ECG is performed to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or conduction of heart beats.

Treatment :
  • If your pet has just ingested chocolate, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. Emetics (medications that induce vomiting) are contraindicated if the pet is twitchy, unaware of his/her surroundings or seizuring. Induction of vomiting in dogs can be performed with 3% hydrogen peroxide 1 ml/lb by mouth (max dose is 45 ml or 3 tablespoons). If the patient does not vomit within 15 minutes, give the same dose again. If this is not effective, a veterinarian may choose other drugs to induce vomiting.
  • Supportive treatment: There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning. The patient needs to be hospitalized for supportive treatment and observation.
  • Activated charcoal may be administered every 3-4 hours to reduce the serum half–life of methylxanthines.
  • Intravenous fluid therapy may be used to help flush out the toxins.
  • In some cases oxygen therapy may be needed.
  • Sedation is necessary for some patients that are very hyperactive.
  • The patient’s cardiovascular system function may require monitoring with ECG, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and/or blood gases.
  • Medication may be required to treat a slow, very fast, or irregular heart beat.
  • Insulin administration may be beneficial to treat caffeine poisoning, as insulin has been shown to be antagonistic to caffeine.

Prognosis :
Patients usually recover with aggressive supportive therapy under the direction of a veterinarian. If the ingestion and the treatment are performed in the first 4 hours, the prognosis is good. Heart failure, weakness, seizures, coma and death can occur 12 to 36 hours after ingestion and the prognosis may be guarded.

References :
  • Glauberg A, Blumenthal HP. Chocolate toxicosis in dogs. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1983; 19: 246-248.
  • Hooser SB, Beasley VR. Methylxanthine poisoning (chocolate and caffeine toxicosis) In Kirk RW, ed Current veterinary therapy IX. Small animal practice. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1992.
  • Osweiler, Gary D., Methylxanthine alkaloids, Toxicology (The national veterinary medical series for independent study), Williams & Wilkins 1996.
  • Tilley LP, Smith FWK, Chocolate toxicity, In: The 5 – minute veterinary consult canine and feline, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins third edition 2003.
  • Plunkett SJ. Chocolate and methylxanthine toxicosis In Emergency Procedures 2nd Ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2002; pp 308-309.

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

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