Chocolate is a big part of many of our holidays – Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween seem to be the big ones. We know that for humans, chocolate can be beneficial for us – it provides antioxidants (the darker the chocolate, the better it is for us), it may help with memory function, it tastes great and it makes us feel good. While this is wonderful for humans, it’s not so great for dogs.
There are compounds found in chocolate (methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine) that are highly toxic for dogs. Darker chocolates and cocoa powders have more of these compounds than lighter chocolates, and white chocolate has very little. While these compounds are metabolized very quickly in humans, they break down very slowly in dogs. Because they are processed so much more slowly in dogs, they can accumulate quickly and reach toxic levels. The effects of the toxin depends on the weight of your dog and how much chocolate they consumed.
Mild reactions to chocolate toxicity will include digestive distress – indicated by upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Consumption of larger amounts of chocolate can result in more severe health effects – tremors, seizures, heart malfunctions, damage to the pancreas, internal bleeding and more. Moderate to severe symptoms require veterinary treatment and can result in fatality.
If your pet has eaten chocolate and is experiencing any symptoms beyond mild reactions, give us a call and let us know so that we can advise you on the best actions for your pet. Use the calculator provided below for general guidance based on weight and amount of chocolate consumed.
Note: one Hershey’s Kiss is approximately .16 ounces; one single bar of chocolate is approximately 1.55 ounces; and a large bar of chocolate is approximately 4.4 ounces.