Lillith Great Dane

Can chocolate really kill your dog?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The not-so-sweet truth


Every dog lover has been warned that chocolate is absolutely deadly to their canine friends. The truth is that some kinds of chocolate are more poisonous than others. Plus, how much chocolate the dog eats is a factor, and some breeds of dogs are more at risk of being affected. With the holiday season coming up and more chocolate treats around to tempt your dog, it’s the right time to learn about the risky relationship between chocolate and dogs.


A dangerous addiction


Just like some of us are “addicted” to chocolate, dogs can be, too. But the flavor they’re responding to is actually theobromine, a toxic substance found in chocolate.


When a dog eats chocolate, theobromine metabolizes slowly, staying in his or her system for up to 20 hours. In the meantime, theobromine interferes with the normal functioning of the central nervous system, heart and kidneys.


Without appropriate treatment, this could lead to death. So be careful about letting your dog have any amount of chocolate -- once your dog has a taste for it, you’ll have a much harder time keeping him or her away.


Not all chocolate is the same


Theobromine is just one of the toxic substances in chocolate. The other cause for concern is caffeine.


Different types of chocolate contain different levels of theobromine and caffeine. For example, white chocolate and milk chocolate contain lower levels, and therefore are considered less of a threat, while dark chocolate and dry cocoa powder have much higher levels and are much more dangerous. And of course, the smaller the dog the less it takes to cause serious problems with his or her health.


Signs of trouble


If your dog has eaten chocolate, you’ll generally notice signs within four to 24 hours. Early signs include:

• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Excessive thirst
• Increased urination
• Restlessness


As more theobromine is metabolized, more serious signs may appear, such as:

• Lack of coordination
• Muscle twitching
• Hyperactivity
• Increased heart rate
• High blood pressure


All of these signs can lead to seizures, coma, heart arrhythmia and ultimately, death.


What can you do if your dog eats chocolate?


Call your vet immediately if you think your dog has eaten chocolate, or if you see the signs of theobromine poisoning. Your veterinarian will help you determine the right treatment for your pet.





Talk to the Vet Website. Accessed September 2, 2011.

Dog Topics Website. Accessed September 2, 2011

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