||CHOCOLATE, ONE OF THE MOST PREVALENT HOLIDAY TREATS, is also one of the
most toxic foods your dog can consume.
Why is chocolate dangerous for your dog?
Just how much chocolate is too much?
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).
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
How will your veterinarian treat excessive
If a trip to the veterinarian is required, he or she may induce more vomiting in your dog 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.
If you think your pet has been poisoned...
Contact your veterinarian or one of the following Animal Poison Hotlines:
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center
1-888-4ANI-HELP - (1-888-426-4435) $65 per case*, billed to your credit card only.
Free follow-up calls at 1-888-299-2973.
*Calls involving a product covered by the Animal Product Safety Service are free.
Pet Poison Helpline - 24-hour service available throughout North America for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet.
1-800-213-6680 ($35.00 per incident). Staffed 24-hours a day.