Why is Chocolate Toxic to My Dog?

Posted February 9, 2016 @ 3:14pm | by Janine Barnes, AERC Marketing Assistant

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we want to remind pet owners that chocolate is toxic to dogs. If you or your Valentine own a dog, put the heart shaped box full of chocolates in a secure location. We suggest some place out of your dog’s reach such as the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet, pantry, or closet. Do not leave chocolate unattended on the counter, table, or in a grocery bag on the floor. Or better yet, don’t even bring it in the house. Over thirty years in this business tells us that your dog will find it!

Why is chocolate toxic?
Chocolate contains methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine), which are toxic to dogs. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of methylxanthines. Watch this video from one of our board-certified criticalists Dr. Justine Lee to learn more:

Baking chocolate is the most toxic because it has 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Milk chocolate has a moderate toxicity level because it has 44-58 mg per ounce. White chocolate is the least toxic because it only has 0.25 mg per ounce. 


How do I know if my dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate? 
Chocolate toxicity depends on three things: 

  1. The type of chocolate 
  2. The amount of chocolate 
  3. Your dog’s weight

The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more harmful it can be. White chocolate is not considered toxic due to the low amount of theobromine. The most dangerous types of chocolate are dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate because they have higher levels of theobromine.

View this Chocolate Meter to learn more about chocolate toxicity. 

What are the signs to look for?
These are the common signs of a chocolate overdose: Vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, excessive urination, hyperactivity, panting, restlessness, a racing heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, elevated blood pressure, increased body temperature, muscle spasms (tremors), seizures, cardiac failure, coma, collapse, and death. 

What should I do if my dog ate chocolate?
If your dog eats chocolate, contact your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Tell them what type of chocolate your dog ate, how much, and your dog’s weight. A veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis to determine if your dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate.

We hope you and your furry Valentines have a safe weekend. If your pet does experience an emergency, both our St. Paul and Oakdale clinics are open 24/7, every day of the year.  

Resources: 

 
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