Chief came in on emergency after eating chocolate. At home he had begun to vomit up the chocolate as well as become shaky and jittery, which was unlike him. When he got to the VVC we noted that his heart rate was over 200 beats per minute; which is very very fast! Normal heart rates in dogs range from 60-120 beats per minute (he was almost double)!
All the symptoms Chief was experiencing are common with ingesting toxic doses of chocolate. Chief also ingested one of the most toxic types of chocolate- Baker’s Chocolate. He only ingested 8 oz- which is about the size of a large Hershey’s bar.
Of all candy, chocolate is most poisonous to dogs. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. Thus, baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and gourmet dark chocolates are the most dangerous. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous are called “methylxanthines”. These include theobromine and caffeine. They are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, just 2-3 ounces of Baker’s chocolate can make a 50-pound dog very sick. Which is the case for Chief. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is less dangerous. It can take up to a pound of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same 50-pound dog. White chocolate rarely causes true chocolate poisoning because it contains very low amounts of methylxanthines; however, the high fat content may result in pancreatitis.
There are many sources in which your pet can be poisoned by chocolate this can include cocoa powder, chewable vitamins, baked goods, even cocoa bean garden mulch. Beware some foods which pack a double toxic punch such as chocolate covered raisins, macadamia nuts, or espresso beans, and foods made with marijuana or THC such as brownies or cookies. Common signs of poisoning, especially in dogs, include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and even death. In some dogs, wrappers from chocolate candy can also cause problems by obstructing the stomach or intestines.
Treatment is typically based on the severity of the toxicity. Treatments may involve inducing vomiting (which should be done with the guidance of a veterinarian) and give multiple doses activated charcoal to decontaminate. Aggressive IV fluids to help with excretion, medications to help to calm the pet, specific heart medications to reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, anti-convulsants for seizures, antacids (such as Pepcid) for stomach discomfort and diarrhea.
Chief was hospitalized for 48 hours on IV (intravenous fluids). He was given activated charcoal to help bind the toxins in his system and keep them from recirculating in the body. Bloodwork was being monitored to ensure that his liver, kidneys, and other organs were functioning normally.
Chief’s symptoms subsided, and he was able to go home!
Village Veterinary Clinic of Hamburg! We are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year (Doctors available daily until midnight. Veterinary technicians available daily 24/7 for phone support and patient monitoring)! 716-646-4023!