Why is chocolate dangerous for your dog?
Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate contain toxins called methylxanthines in the form of caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant. Theobromine, a bitter, colorless chemical, increases urine production, relaxes blood vessels, and stimulates the heart. Methylxanthines are also found in coffee, tea, cola, and cocoa bean hulls (landscape bedding).
Just how much chocolate is too much?
Ideally, your dog should never consume chocolate. Mild symptoms occur with the ingestion of 9 mg per pound of body weight of either caffeine or theobromine. Severe signs occur around 20 mg/lb. Seizures and possible death can occur after ingestion of 27 mg of theobromine or caffeine per pound of body weight. Since milk chocolate contains 58 mg/oz of theobromine, a dose of less than 1 oz of milk chocolate per pound of body weight could potentially cause death. Less than 0.1 oz of baking chocolate per pound of body weight could be lethal, and less than 0.075 oz per pound of cocoa could be toxic. Usually the more bitter the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine.
What should you do if your dog ingests chocolate?
First, call your veterinarian, who will evaluate the situation and likely provide instructions on how to make your dog vomit. If possible, note the type of chocolate and estimate the amount eaten. If your regular veterinarian is unavailable, seek emergency care.
How will your veterinarian treat excessive chocolate ingestion?
If a trip to the veterinarian is required, he or she may keep your dog vomiting to continue expelling the chocolate from his system. Your veterinarian may also flush out your dog’s stomach and administer activated charcoal to absorb remaining toxins. Your dog may receive IV fluids to prevent dehydration and increase urine production, since some toxins may be reabsorbed from the urinary bladder. A urinary catheter may also be required. If your dog has a fever or seizures, your veterinarian will also take steps to treat those conditions. Throughout treatment, your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog’s heart rate and rhythm, and give heart-stabilizing medications if indicated.
What is the prognosis for dogs who’ve ingested too much chocolate?
Dogs treated within 6-12 hours of ingestion usually recover with hospitalization and aggressive therapy. However, if enough methylxanthines are absorbed, chocolate ingestion may lead to coma, cardiac failure, or death.