Like us dogs, dogs absolutely LOVE chocolate and they are extremely good at sniffing it out! Here at the clinic one particular poodle comes to mind when we think of chocolate and chocolate toxicity.
Lila, our chocoholic poodle (pictured above) is no stranger to chocolate poisoning.
Lilla isn’t fussy with what chocolate she eats and loves all sorts of brands and flavours. She has devoured a whole KitKat Chunky, A full bag of family sized fruit chocs and a whole family block of milk chocolate…..Oh dear!!
Her owners try hard to keep the chocolate out of paws reach; however Lila sneaks into the pantry, climbs the shelves and helps herself to the chocolate. “If you have it in your mouth, she will try to lick it out” her owner has told us.
Luckily for Lila, her owners are extremely vigilant and each time have rushed her in to the clinic, quick enough for our team of veterinarians to treat her before any major damage is done.
So…why is chocolate poisonous to our furry companions?
Chocolate contains a derivative of caffeine called theobromine that cannot be metabolised by our furry friends, particularly dogs. The concentration of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate. Cocoa powder, dark chocolate and baking chocolate all contain higher levels of theobromine compared to milk chocolate. The toxicity of theobromine is dose-related and therefore smaller amounts of dark chocolate need to be eaten to reach this toxic dose. This means the overall effect of the chocolate ingestion on the dog depends on the size of the dog, the amount of chocolate eaten and they type of chocolate eaten.
Our advice is not to give ANY amount of chocolate to your dog, but if they have managed to get hold of your favourite secret Lindt stash or found the kid’s Easter egg trail, then follow these guidelines below:
- White chocolate – varies greatly in the amount of theobromine it contains. Theobromine is not naturally present in white chocolate, however many brands inject it into their white chocolate meaning it could actually contain as much theobromine as milk or dark chocolate.
- Milk chocolate -generally contains 44-64 mg theobromine.
- Semi-sweet chocolate & sweet dark chocolate- contains 150-160 mg theobromine
- Unsweetened (baking) chocolate – 390-450 mg theobromine
- Dry cocoa powder -800 mg theobromine
Signs to look out for;
Chocolate poisoning mostly affects our pet’s gastrointestinal system, central nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms usually start to show from 4-24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate.
- Racing heartbeat
- Vomiting & diarrhoea
- Sudden death
What we will do for your sick pet:
Unfortunately for our furry friends there is no antidote for chocolate and the only treatment available is not the nicest. To put it nicely – what went in must come out!
Treatment involves inducing emesis (which simply means making our poor pooches vomit!).
This is commonly done using an injection under the skin or an application of medication to the eye.
In severe cases some of our patients may require further supportive care such as fluid therapy, seizure medication and a few days in hospital.
Chocolate is not the only danger over the Easter Period with lots of hot cross buns and lilies around our homes.
Hot cross buns – Did you know sultanas and raisins found in hot cross buns contain a toxin that causes kidney damage to our pets?
Easter lilies –Although lilies are beautiful fragrant flowers they can cause kidney failure in cats. Their stems, leaves, flowers and stamen (aka. The pollen producing part of a flower) are all dangerous as well as the vase of water they are in.
So enjoy Easter with your family, friends and pets, but make sure you keep those lilies up high, hot cross buns and chocolate out of paws reach and we look forward to seeing you and your healthy pets after the Easter Break!