With Halloween right around the corner, there will most likely be more chocolate around the house than normal. If you have pets, you've got to be cautious of this dangerous toxin.
Most dog owners are aware that chocolate is a big no-no for dogs. However, the amount and the type of chocolate a dog ingests make a huge difference in how your dog will be affected by it. While the random chocolate chip in a cookie is usually not an issue, certain kinds of chocolate are highly toxic to pooches.
In most cases, the more bitter and darker the chocolate a dog has ingested, the greater the risk of your dog getting poisoned. The amount of chocolate a dog can ingest without serious adverse effects is relative to the size of the dog as well. Where an 85-pound Labrador may show no reaction to eating a few candies from your plastic pumpkin candy-catcher, a 4-pound Chihuahua may be seriously at risk.
The toxicity of chocolates is generally caused by a chemical that’s a relative of caffeine known as methylxanthines. This triggers diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, hyperactivity, increased thirst, agitation, seizures, abnormal heart rate, and sometimes death.
Also, with as low as 20 mg/kg of theobromine, another chemical compound in chocolates that is indigestible to dogs, clinical signs of canine poisoning can already be observed in your pet. Amounts of theobromine ingested that is greater than 40 mg/kg can result in cardiotoxicity which is characterized by racing heartrates or heart arrhythmias. Worse, if your dog has consumed amounts of chocolate with this chemical greater than 60 mg/kg, neurotoxicity would be a potential risk. A poisoned nervous system can lead to tremors, seizures, and/or even death.
SIGNS OF CHOCOLATE TOXICITY IN DOGS INCLUDE:
• Vomiting and Diarrhea – These two problems are the earliest signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs. In light cases, dogs may simply vomit or have diarrhea a few times and then feel better. However, in severe cases, these symptoms may progress further to the others on the list below.
• Excessive Thirst and Urination – Since both theobromine and caffeine are diuretics, found in ALL types of chocolate, dogs may show both excessive thirst and urination when they have ingested too much of either of these substances.
• Restlessness – Caffeine, in particular, may cause dogs to behave restlessly. Darker chocolates with higher caffeine content may lead to this symptom even without the dog ingesting very much of it.
• High Heart Rate – An elevated heart rate is a dangerous symptom that could lead to cardiac arrest, especially in older dogs or those with underlying conditions. It can be difficult to monitor your pet’s heart rate at home, so it may be advised to take your dog to the emergency vet right away for monitoring and/or treatment.
• Seizures – Seizures are one of the most severe symptoms of extreme chocolate toxicity in dogs. This may only occur when a dog has ingested a large quantity of chocolate, but it can sometimes mean the toxicity will become fatal without veterinary treatment. Take your dog to the vet right away if he shows this symptom after eating chocolate.