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Is chocolate toxic for dogs?

(February 25, 2010)

Contrary to the way it is with human beings, there should be little doubt that chocolate is bad for dogs as it can be toxic and even fatal to most animals; dogs are most commonly affected due to their ability to find it. You might disagree with this fact when you notice your dogs enjoying chocolate; however, veterinarians say that chocolate toxicity for dogs depends on the type and amount of chocolate consumed. Once a dog tastes chocolates, it will always look for an opportunity to eat any type of chocolate without knowing its toxic effect.

Chocolate is made up of cocoa beans that contain theobromine, a natural stimulant that increases urination, increases blood pressure, causes nausea and vomiting, and affects the central nervous system as well as the heart muscles. The amount of theobromine varies in the type of chocolate. The amount of chocolate toxicity depends on the total body weight of the dog and the type of chocolate consumed. Here are a few pointers on the types of chocolate and the amounts of chocolate that are toxic for dogs:

•    White chocolate is the safest chocolate for dogs as it contains the least amount of theobromine: 1 mg per ounce. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause toxicity in a 20-pound dog.

•    Milk chocolate contains 60 mg of theobromine per ounce. Approximately 1 pound of milk chocolate or 4 to 5 candies of milk chocolate can cause toxicity in a 20-pound dog.

•    Sweet cocoa contains 260 mg of theobromine per ounce. About one-third a pound of sweet chocolate is toxic for a 20 pound dog.

•    Baking chocolate contains a huge 450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Two one ounce squares of baking chocolate are toxic for dogs.

Here are the signs of toxicity in dogs, which can be observed after 12 hours of chocolate ingestion:

•    Within the first few hours, you can observe over excitement, nervousness, and trembling, followed by diarrhea and vomiting.

•    Excessive thirst and urination due to excess amounts of theobromine.

•    Sometime later, the heart rate increases and causes arrhythmia.

•    Other symptoms are muscle spasms and seizures, followed by coma and death, if not treated on time.

When you see the symptoms, you should call your veterinarian, and in the meantime try to find out which type and how much amount of chocolate your dog has consumed. There is no specific antidote for theobromine poisoning. Here are some treatment methods:

•    IV Fluids prevent dogs from dehydration and flush out the theobromine from the body.

•    Emetics induce vomiting and are beneficial after 3 to 4 hours of chocolate consumption.

•    Active charcoal is used to reduce the toxicity when the chocolate was consumed 5 hours prior to the treatment time.

•    Anti-seizure medication and cardiac medication prevent seizures and arrhythmias.

Submitted by M A on February 25, 2010 at 12:03


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