This week is Poison Prevention week, so we will be sharing important information about different pet toxins all week long. Easter is just around the corner with all of its delicious chocolate treats, so while most people are aware of the toxic risk that chocolate poses to dogs, this is an excellent time for a quick reminder!
Chocolate contains toxic compounds called methylxanthines, including theobromine and caffeine. The more pure (darker) the chocolate, the higher the toxins. Just a small piece of dark chocolate may be enough to harm a small dog. The toxic dose for cats is even smaller, but cats are less prone to eating chocolate since they are unable to taste sweetness.
Once ingested by a dog (or cat), theobromines can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and in severe cases, death. Using information about your dog’s weight and the type and amount of chocolate your dog has ingested, we will be able to calculate whether the amount ingested is of concern or not. Keep the packaging from the chocolate that was ingested, as it may contain important information for this calculation.
If your dog has ingested chocolate or any other substance that you know or believe to be toxic, immediately phone us (or CTVRC if it is after hours – 416-784-4444), and we will tell you whether or not a visit to the clinic is required. If a dog has consumed a dangerous dose of chocolate, the faster you get to a clinic to induce vomiting, the better. Even if the chocolate was ingested up to 4-6 hours ago, it may still be possible to induce vomiting to get some of the chocolate out of their system.
Once it has been digested, the toxic compounds from chocolate will take 4 days to work their way out of your dog’s system, and hospitalization and supportive care, including intravenous fluids may be required. In most cases, after appropriate treatment dogs will recover from chocolate ingestion and be no worse for wear. However in rare cases fatalities can occur, so keep your pets safe by always keeping chocolate and baked goods securely locked away!