Chocolate Toxicity and Your Pet

Chocolate Toxicity and Your Pet

Chocolate Toxicity

holly-pollack-rabies-alertHi I’m Dr. Holly Pollack and as your local veterinarian I am happy to answer any of your questions! One of the most common questions around fall is related to chocolate at Halloween! We generally do experience more chocolate toxicity at Halloween and Easter then other times of the year.

Why is something so tasty so bad for my pet? Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant found naturally in cocoa beans and it is poisonous to dogs. Theobromine affects the central nervous system in multiple ways including over stimulating muscles.

What are the signs of chocolate toxicity? Side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyper-excitability, hyperactivity, increased response to stimuli.
  • Increased heart rate which will cause panting, restlessness, muscle twitching, excessive thrust and urination.

The higher the concentration of theobromine the greater the side effects. In severe cases, the core body temperature will raise causing hyperthermia from muscle tremors and seizures. If left unaddressed theobromine may result in coma and even death.

Here is a quick list of types of chocolate and their level of danger from least to most due to the quantity of theobromine they contain.

  • White Chocolate: Least dangerous to pets
  • Hot Chocolate: Limited to moderate risk
  • Milk Chocolate: Moderate risk to pets – call your vet to discuss your options.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate: moderate to high risk, call your vet without delay.
  • Baking Chocolate: Do not hesitate….go to the vet.

Milk Chocolate example:
A 20 pound dog must eat roughly 1 pound of milk chocolate or 5 full size candy bars to get fatal toxicity.

Baker’s Chocolate example:
5 ounces of powder is toxic for a 50-pound dog. Dark chocolate cake recipes call for 6 to 8 ounces of unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate) Baker’s Chocolate has the highest amounts of theobromine so be careful during baking season.

It is more difficult for large dogs to have serious side effects verses small dogs because the quantity has a relationship with the weight of the dog.

If you ever have a concern or want to discuss a situation where your pet got into chocolate, please call Dr. Holly Pollack at Amelia Island Animal Hospital @ 904-261-7153

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