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Tips From the Pet Poison HELPLINE — Chocolate

We all want to keep our furbabies safe and healthy. Dogster Kristy Sweetland, furmom to Seva and Finlay, will be providing weekly tips and warnings...

Joy  |  Apr 11th 2007


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We all want to keep our furbabies safe and healthy. Dogster Kristy Sweetland, furmom to Seva and Finlay, will be providing weekly tips and warnings from the Pet Poison HELPLINE to make that job easier. As a veterinary technician with the Pet Poison HELPLINE she’s going to help us all stay more on top of what’s dangerous for our furry family members.

Chocolate!

If youre like me, chocolate doesnt last very long in your house. Those of you who celebrate Easter and possess more self-control than I, might still have some chocolate left over from that celebratory basket. Most people understand that chocolate can be harmful to dogs, but did you know that its toxicity depends upon the type of chocolate? For instance, a white chocolate bunny is much less toxic than a solid milk chocolate bunny. Neither one, however, comes close to the toxicity of dark chocolate truffles or baking chocolate. As a general rule, the lighter the chocolate, the less potential for poisoning. A dog can eat significant quantities of white chocolate with little risk for toxicity, but tiny quantities of solid dark chocolate can be extremely detrimental. The reason? Theobromine, the toxic component of chocolate (similar to caffeine) is more highly concentrated in the darker forms.

What happens when your dog raids the chocolate stash? Call your veterinarian immediately. The goal is to prevent absorption and minimize the potential for signs to occur. Occasionally we come home after being away for hours and realize our dog has eaten chocolate while we were gone. Still call your veterinarian! Preventative measures can be helpful even hours after ingestion.

The signs of chocolate poisoning are very similar to those of caffeine. Vomiting, with or without diarrhea, almost always occurs first and then the signs progress to stimulation and agitation. Most dogs exhibit a level of hyperactivity far beyond what is normal for even the most energetic of dogs. Left untreated, increases in respiratory and heart rates and tremors occur followed by cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and death.

A dogs capacity for taste is most highly developed for sweets. They love sugary foods more than anything and some dogs will go to Herculean lengths to satisfy their chocolate craving. Keep it secure and far away from them at all times. Theyll thank you for it in the long run.