Chocolate is toxic because it contains the alkaloid theobromine. Theobromine is similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle
relaxant. Theobromine can be poisonous in large amounts.
How much chocolate is poisonous to a dog?
Toxic doses of theobromine are reported to be about 100 mg/kg and fatalities occur at around 200 mg/kg
The amount of toxic theobromine varies based on the type of chocolate.
Cooking or baking chocolate and high quality dark chocolate contains between 15-20 mg of theobromine per gram while common milk chocolate only contains about 1.5 mg/gm of theobromine. This means that a small dog, weighing 2.2kg, would only have to eat as 2.8g of baking chocolate or as little as 21g of milk chocolate to potentially show signs of poisoning. A larger dog, weighing 22kg, would have to eat as 12g of baking or dark chocolate or 200g of milk chocolate to become ill.
What are the clinical signs of chocolate poisoning?
Clinical signs are based on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. In older pets that eat a large amount of high quality or baking chocolate, sudden death from cardiac arrest may occur. This is especially common in older dogs with preexisting heart disease. For many dogs, the most common clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, muscle spasms and occasionally seizures. Increased heart rate and abnormal behavior are also
Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take up to twelve hours to develop. Once theobromine is absorbed into the body, it may remain there for up to twenty-fours causing damage. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate.
What should I do if my dog eats chocolate?
Since chocolate is potentially toxic to dogs, you should have your pet examined by a veterinarian immediately. The sooner the theobromine is removed from the body or the pet is stabilized, the
better your dog’s prognosis.
What is the treatment for chocolate poisoning?
Treatment is based on the amount and type of chocolate eaten. If treated early, removal of the chocolate from the stomach by administering medications to induce vomiting may be all that is
necessary. In cases where the chocolate was ingested several hours earlier, activated charcoal may be administered to block the absorption of theobromine in the stomach and small intestine.
Activated charcoal may be administered every four hours for the first twenty-four to thirty-six hours to reduce the continued reabsorption and recirculation of theobromine