Chocolate poisoning

Med. vet. Fulya Şafak

Is chocolate really a key of happiness? It may be for us! However, it is extremely dangerous for our four-legged friends!

We all know that dogs tend to eat everything unlike cats. And especially in special days such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, they are facing with the sweet, tasty and poisonous problem: CHOCOLATE.

Why is chocolate toxic for dogs and cats?

In the cocoa bean, coffee and tea there is a substance called Methylxanthin. So not just cocoa; tea and coffee are also toxic to our animal friends. This substance is also used in certain medications such as diuretics, blood vessel expanders and asthma medications. For doping purposes, it can sometimes be misused in animals.

Theobromin (3,7-Dimethylxanthin), which is found in cocoa beans, cannot be properly metabolized by dogs. So; it can be fatal even when consumed in small amounts.

The more cocoa the chocolate contains, the more harmful it is for your dog.

Although the lethal dose is specified as 100-200 mg/kg, some poisoning symptoms may be observed at lower doses.

infographic chocolate poisoning dog

How long do the symptoms of the disease occur after the intake of chocolate?

The first symptoms start within 2-4 hours when your dog suddenly eats a big amount of chocolate. If untreated, death can occur within 18-24 hours.

Continuous intake of a small amount of chocolate for several days can lead to heart failure in your dog.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Crying- moaning
  • Rapid breathing, breathing difficulties
  • Excessive water intake
  • Excessive urination or urinary incontinence
  • Hyperactivity: Increase in activity
  • Increased body temperature
  • Abnormal heart rhythm, accelerated heart rate or sudden cardiac arrest

What should I do if my dog eats chocolate?

If your dog ate chocolate, you should go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner the chocolate is removed from the body, the more chance your dog will recover.

Do not try to treat your dog or cat at home and don’t give any food or water before you go to your veterinarian.

What kind of treatment process is waiting for my dog?

Your veterinarian will treat your dog/cat according to the severity of poisoning symptoms.

  • Vomiting your dog can be useless due to the sticky nature of the chocolate.
  • If your dog has difficulty breathing, or if your dog shows signs of tremor, seizures, it should be stabilised.
  • If it has an increased heart rhythm, your veterinarian may use Beta-Blocker or Lidocaine (only for dogs) to decrease it.
  • Stomach irrigation can be performed to reduce the excretion or absorption of chocolate.
  • Activated charcoal can be used twice a day.

Because the substance contained in the chocolate can be absorbed from the bladder and mixed back into the bloodstream, it will be beneficial for your dog to urinate frequently.

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