December 2, 2020
chocolate poisoning in a dog

Chocolate poisoning in a dog | Toxicity Calculator | Treatment

Chocolates are poisonous to your pets. They contain two chemicals that are toxic to dogs and cats. The chemicals are called theobromine and caffeine. Both these chemicals are known as methylxanthines, they are natural stimulants. This article will discuss Chocolate poisoning in a dog and its treatment.

Different types of chocolates have different amounts of these chemicals. So, the amount and the type of chocolate determine the severity of toxicity. White chocolate and milk chocolate are the least toxic due to less amount of these chemicals. 

Dark chocolates have more levels of theobromine. So they are more dangerous.

With the upcoming holiday season, cases of chocolate toxicity will go up. So keep your furry animals away from chocolates.

How Much Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs?

Dogs metabolize these chemicals differently from humans. so, the chance of poisoning is high in dogs. Whether chocolate will cause poisoning or not depends on the amount of chocolate ingested, type of chocolate and overall health status of the pet.

As low as 20 mg/kg theobromine ingestion can cause mild symptoms like drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Ingestion of theobromine more than 200 mg/kg can cause seizures or even death.

Use a Chocolate toxicity calculator to check levels of toxicity.

Chocolate Toxicity Calculator

What are the clinical signs of chocolate poisoning in a dog?

Your pet may show some or all of the following symptoms depending on type of chocolate and amount of ingestion. Clinical symptoms of chocolate poisoning generally appear in a few hours after ingestion and can last for  a few days.

chocolate poisoning in a dog
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal distention
  • Vomiting 
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms, tremors
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased water intake and urination 
  • Seizures, collapse, and  death in rare cases

What is the treatment for chocolate poisoning in a dog?

There is no specific  treatment for chocolate poisoning. But supportive treatment works well in the majority of cases. So consult your veterinarian immediately.

Some common steps are followed for the  treatment:

  • Vomiting is induced by your veterinarian if ingestion of the chocolate occurred less than 2-3 hours
  • After vomiting, give activated charcoal (food grade) to your pet every four to six hours for the first twenty-four hours. It will stop the absorption of  any remaining toxins from the stomach 
  • In some cases, your pet needs Intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the toxin from the body
  • Hyperactivity, muscle tremors or seizures can be controlled with medications such as diazepam, midazolam, or methocarbamol Medications like Beta-blocker to lower the heart rate are needed in some rare cases.
  • The theobromine is also reabsorbed from the urinary bladder, so frequent urination is important.

For more information check the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control website or call 888-426-4435 will have information to help determine the extent of toxicity based on these factors. 

chocolate poisoning in a dog

How long does it take for chocolate to get out of a dog’s system?

It totally depends on the amount of chocolate ingestion and the type of treatment given to the pet. but in general, symptoms can last for 24-72 hours.

Will my dog OK after eating chocolate?

Chocolate is poisonous to pets due to theobromine. The level of toxicity depends on theobromine content in the chocolate. So your pet may show no signs to seizure or even death.

Can a small piece of chocolate kill a dog?

It is not the size of the chocolate that matters. It is the amount of theobromine in chocolate. So, even a small piece could be dangerous.

How do I make my dog throw up?

The best option is to take your pet to your veterinarian. If no veterinary assistance is available at that time, then you can try two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide for every 10 kilograms of body weight of your pet.

Put the hydrogen peroxide with a syringe directly into the back of your pet’s throat. The pet may vomit in 10-15 mins and it can last for 45 mins.

Some other important articles:   

Spleen tumor in dogs

Veterinary drug dose calculator

Lyme Disease in Dogs

This information is NOT intended as a substitute for veterinary consultation for any of your pet’s diseases. Always consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

References:

  • Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline by Larry P. Tilley, Francis W. K. Smith
  • Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice by Robert G. Sherding and Stephen J. Birchard
  • Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian by Signe J. Plunkett
  • Merck Veterinary Manual by  Susan Aiello
  • 100 Top Consultations in Small Animal General Practice by Peter Hill, Sheena Warman, Geoff Shawcross
  • Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook by Donald C. Plumb
  • Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Manual, 3rd Edition by Karol A. Mathews

Dr Gurpal Chahal, DVM

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

View all posts by Dr Gurpal Chahal, DVM →

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