Toxic Food, part 2

Recurring post – to be published during holiday seasons. Why?

Chocolate toxication occurs especially on Valentine’s day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas …

Chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs (Stidworthy et al., 1997; Beasley, 1999). Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which cannot be metabolized by dogs. Dark chocolate is more toxic, whereas milk chocolate less so, and white chocolate must be consumed in extremely large quantities to cause serious problems.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual (1998), approximately 1.3 g of baking chocolate per kg of the dog’s body weight is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity, e.g. a typical 25 g unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate bar would be enough to bring out symptoms in a 20 kg dog.

Cocoa powder and unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate are the most toxic forms (Sutton, 1981), and contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell.

Clinical signs of toxication usually occur within 6–12 h of ingestion, e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dyspnea, thirst, and increased urination. These can progress to dehydration, restlessness, hyperactivity, cardiac arrhythmias, internal bleeding, heart attacks, tachypnea, ataxia, tremors, seizures, weakness, coma, cyanosis, hypertension, hyperthermia, and eventually death.

If your dog ingests chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.