Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

by Colleen Fernandez

in Health Problems

Buster the Boston terrierThis past weekend I had a little scare.

I got home from work to discover that my boyfriend wanted to surprise me with a “World’s Finest Chocolate” candy bar; but my Boston Terrier, Lucy, beat me to it!

While he was in the living room watching television, Lucy was on my bed feasting on milk chocolate with almonds. She polished off the entire thing, wrapper and all!

Naturally he freaked out and called the local animal hospital for advice. They told him that Lucy should be okay, that she might have an upset stomach, diarrhea, and may vomit. They told us that milk chocolate in the quantity she consumed is not lethal. Phew!

Of course, he went on-line and researched it for himself as well and this is what he discovered.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities. It’s in the same family as caffeine. However, it generally takes a fairly large amount of theobromine (100-150 mg/kg) to cause a toxic reaction. Of course every animal is different and you should take the size of the animal, etc. into consideration.

On average milk chocolate contains about 44 mg of theobromine per ounce. Semisweet chocolate contains 150 mg/oz and Baker’s chocolate contains 390 mg/oz.

Using a dose of 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose it comes out roughly as:
1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker’s chocolate.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Theobromine affects the nervous system, cardiovascular system and peripheral nerves; and also has a diuretic effect. If your dogs has chocolate poisoning she may experience all or some of the following:

Hyper excitability
Hyper irritability
Increased heart rate
Increased urination
Muscle tremors

What To Do If Your Dogs Eats Chocolate

Unfortunately there is no antidote for chocolate poisoning, and if you’re not sure how much your pet has consumed you should induce vomiting in the first 1-2 hours.

You should keep an “emergency kit” for instances when your pup lets her sweet tooth get the best of her. Keep activated charcoal (you can get this from your vet) and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house at all times in case of emergencies.

The hydrogen peroxide is used to induce vomiting, and the activated charcoal binds itself to the poison, preventing it from being processed and being absorbed into the bloodstream.

To treat your dog for chocolate poisoning, you should induce vomiting first. Do this by mixing 3% hydrogen peroxide to a water solution. Give your dog about 1-2 teaspoons by mouth every 10-15 minutes, until your dog begins to vomit.

Once she has vomited, you can begin to administer the charcoal. The sooner you can do this, the better. Follow the directions on the label. If you don’t have directions, you can follow this general rule: 1 teaspoon for a dog that is 25 pounds or less and 2 teaspoons for a dog that weighs more than 25 pounds.

The Best Treatment is Prevention

Chocolate should not be given to dogs- ever! And it should always be kept out of reach, because if they can find a way to get it, they will.

However, if your dog does find a way to get to it, and you think she may have chocolate poisoning, you should contact your local vet or poison control center immediately. They should be able to better advise you on the best steps to take.

If you have been through this with your pet, or have something to add … please leave a comment below!



Previous post:

Next post: