Chocolate Toxicity and Pets
Do you LOVE your dog? Does he own your heart? Is she your TRUE valentine? If so, then you may be tempted to share some of the chocolate goodies you receive on Valetines day with them. And while your dog may like chocolate, it definitely doesn't like them! Chocolate contains an alkaloid compound called theobromine which is similar to caffeine and can make dogs quite ill. Theobromine is used in human medicine as a cardiovascular drug and is not poisonous to people. Whew!! But theobromine can be quite toxic to curious dogs that find the candy box open. Even a small amount of theobromine can cause vomiting and restlessness in pets. At larger doses it can be FATAL. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, Chocolate is at the top of the list of poison calls that pet owners made in 2011.
Theobromine is also toxic to cats, but there are very few reported cases of theobromine poisoning in felines because they rarely eat chocolate. Their eating habits just differ from those of dogs who seem to get into anything!
Across the spectrum of chocolate products the amount of theobromine varies. The darker, more bitter, and more concentrated the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is. Unsweetened bakers chocolate contains about 390 milligrams of theobromine per ounce -- about 10 times more than milk chocolate and more than twice as much as semi-sweet chocolate. White chocolate, on the other hand, contains very little theobromine.
So how much is too much? The lethal dose of theobromine depends on the size of the dog. Here are the estimates according to the AAHA Healthy Pet website.
- 4 to 10 ounces of milk chocolate or 1/2 to 1 ounce of baking chocolate for small dogs, such as Chihuahuas and toy poodles.
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of milk chocolate or 2 to 3 ounces of baking chocolate for medium-sized dogs, like cocker spaniels and dachshunds.
- 2 to 4 1/2 pounds of milk chocolate or 4 to 8 ounces of baking chocolate for large dogs, including collies and Labrador retrievers.
Estimates of the smallest amounts that can be fatal are:
While a very small amount of chocolate may not harm some dogs, it's safest to avoid giving it to them at all. If an accident occurs, consult your veterinarian immediately or call Animal Poison Control. Treatment may require inducing vomiting, stabilizing the animal's heartbeat and respiration, controlling seizures and slowing the absorption of theobromine. If the animal already is comatose, its stomach may need to be pumped.
From everyone at Anacapa Animal Hospital, have a SAFE and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!