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CAN YOU GIVE CHOCOLATE TO YOUR DOG? SURPRISING FACTS

CAN YOU GIVE CHOCOLATE TO YOUR DOG? SURPRISING FACTS

Dogs are lovable and loyal creatures. Every owner wishes to see his/her dog enjoying good health. Many dog owners feed chocolate and chocolate-based products to their beloved canine friends as a treat. All along with that, dog owners usually ask questions about the chocolate feeding in dogs, for instance,

 

Is chocolate good for dogs?

What are important risks associated with chocolate feeding in dogs?

How to deal with chocolate poisoning in dogs?

 

In this article, we will discuss chocolate poisoning in dogs and all related things under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.

 

 IS CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR DOGS?
 

Chocolate is not good for your beloved canine friend. Theobromine is a substance that is naturally present in chocolate and belongs to a class of organic compounds called “Methylxanthines”. This compound is toxic for dogs and causes chocolate-associated toxicosis.

 

CAN DOGS METABOLIZE THEOBROMINE?
 

Unlike humans, dogs can’t effectively metabolize the theobromine. Due to the poor metabolism of theobromine, it starts accumulating in the dog’s body and leads to chocolate poisoning. This is important to know that dark chocolate contains a greater amount of theobromine as compared to white/milk-based chocolate. 

 

Note: This has been scientifically documented that absorption, metabolism, and excretion of theobromine are very slow in dogs as compared to other species.

The half life of theobromine in dogs: 17.5-18 hours (This is quite long as compared to human beings which are approximately 2-3 hours).

Half life-  The time of stay of a drug in the body before its excretion.

 

WHAT ARE IMPORTANT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHOCOLATE POISONING IN DOGS?
 

The signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning vary from dog to dog. Some breeds are highly susceptible to chocolate poisoning and they show severe clinical signs and symptoms. Being a responsible owner, this is your topmost responsibility to keep an eye on your dog. Usually, signs and symptoms occur within four to twenty hours after your dog has eaten the chocolate or chocolate-based items.

 

Here we have summarized some important key signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs. 

 

1) Polydipsia (increased thirst)

2) Vomiting 

3) Diarrhea 

4) Restlessness

5) Abdominal distention is usually seen 

6) Polyuria (excessive urination)

7) Muscular tremors and seizures (can be seen in severe cases).

8) Heart failure (This has been reported that sudden death occurs in older dogs with cardiac arrest if they ingested a huge amount of dark chocolate. Over and above, severe cardiac complications have been seen in the dogs having pre-existing cardiac ailments).

 

Remember, death due to chocolate poisoning occurs because of respiratory failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and hyperthermia.

Hint: Diarrhea and vomit will smell like chocolate. This is an important hint that can aid in a better diagnosis of chocolate poisoning in dogs.

 

WHAT IS THE TOXIC DOSE OF THEOBROMINE FOR DOGS?
 

Toxic dose

Bodyweight

Signs and symptoms


20mg/kg:

1)Gastrointestinal disturbance 2) diarrhea 3) vomiting 4) restlessness 

40-50mg/kg:

Cardiac signs including 1) tachycardia (increased heart rate) 2) cardiac arrhythmias 3) increased blood pressure etc

60-100mg/kg:

Neurological signs including 1) seizures 2) tremors 3) twitching, 4) sudden death in a few cases.

200mg/kg:

Highly toxic, most of the fatalities occur at this dose.

 

HOW CAN BE CHOCOLATE POISONING DIAGNOSED IN DOGS?

 

EARLY DIAGNOSIS, EARLY TREATMENT, EARLY RECOVERY

 

This is important to quickly report the signs and symptoms to a registered veterinarian. He/she will suggest you a better treatment strategy according to the current situation of your dog. 

Diagnosis can be made based on clinical signs and symptoms and the previous feeding history. Your vet will do a thorough examination of your dog to reach the best possible treatment plan.

 

Differential diagnosis:
 

Chocolate poisoning can be easily confused with the following conditions:

 

1) Pseudoephedrine toxicosis 

2) Cocaine toxicosis

3) Amphetamine toxicosis 

4) Or toxicosis due to a variety of anti-depressants, CNS stimulants etc 

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO, IF MY DOG EATS CHOCOLATE?
 

Treatment depends upon the severity of the signs and symptoms along with the amount of chocolate ingested. Activated charcoal is suggested to inhibit the absorption of theobromine through the intestine and induce vomiting. Remember, activated charcoal is administered after every 4-6 hours (only for the first 24 hours) to decrease the absorption and recirculation of theobromine in the dog’s body.

Important: Always call your regular veterinarian first, or an emergency veterinarian if your regular veterinarian is closed. If you can't get in touch with a veterinarian, your final option is to feed your dog hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal. Please read the instructions carefully and follow them here.


Important: REMAIN CALM AT ALL TIMES WHEN ACCIDENTS OCCUR. If you're anxious, your dog will probably be as well. It would also be a difficult job if you needed to provide hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal to your dog. 

 

IV fluids:

IV fluids are usually recommended by vets because they facilitate the excretion of theobromine from the dog’s body.

 

Beta-blockers:
 

They are administered to decrease the slow-down heart rate and deal with cardiac arrhythmias. 

Note: Regularly monitor the signs and symptoms in your dog. Don’t use any medication without the consultancy of a registered veterinary practitioner. 

Barbiturates can also be used to treat severe episodes of seizures. However, methocarbamol or diazepam can be used to treat mild seizures.

 

HOW CAN I PREVENT CHOCOLATE POISONING IN MY DOG?
  

Avoid giving chocolate and chocolate-based items (including chocolate ice-cream) to your dog. Educate your children to not give chocolate or chocolate-made items to the dog. Carefully, check the ingredients list before giving any treatment to your dog. Properly crate train your dog. Train your beloved canine friend to follow your commands (not to eat anything unless you give him a command).

 

Keep chocolate or any theobromine product away from the reach of your dog. However, there are many vets-recommended chocolates available that can be given to dogs only after discussing with a registered pet expert/nutritionist. Last but not least, being a responsible owner, this is your duty to keep eye on your dog (carefully monitor what your dog is eating). In case of any emergency, call your veterinarian.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Chocolate is not considered good for dogs. It contains theobromine that causes mild to life threatening complications in the dogs. If your dog ingests chocolate or chocolate made product, contact your vet on emergency grounds. Keep chocolate away from the reach of your beloved canine friend. There are many vet recommended chocolates free from theobromine available in the market. You can discuss with your vet in this regard.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

 

Q: Why chocolate is toxic for dogs?

Chocolate contains a compound “theobromine” that is not properly metabolized in the dog’s body. It leads to life-threatening toxicosis in dogs. This is why; experts don’t recommend chocolate feeding in dogs.


Q: What is the LD50 dose of theobromine in dogs?

Generally, it depends upon the response of a particular dog to the theobromine. Usually, the LD50 dose of theobromine ranges from 100-300mg/kg body weight of the dog. 

 

Q: Which chocolate contains a greater amount of theobromine?

The darker and the bitter chocolate contain a greater amount of theobromine and considered more dangerous as compared to the white chocolate (it usually contains less amount of theobromine- 0.1mg/g).

 

Q: Where metabolism of the theobromine occurs in dogs?

The absorption of theobromine is very slow in dogs. Metabolism occurs in the liver of the dog.

 

Q: When signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning appear in dogs?

Signs and symptoms usually appear within six to twelve hours and may last for a day. It is important to know that signs and symptoms may appear in one hour as well.

 

Q: Why fluid diuresis is important to perform in dogs?

Fluid diuresis helps in the effective excretion of theobromine from the dog’s body. All along with that, it stabilizes the functioning of the cardiovascular system.

 

 

REFERENCES

Bates N, Rawson-Harris P, Edwards N. Common questions in veterinary toxicology. J Small Anim Pract (2015) 56:298–306. doi:10.1111/jsap.12343

Ghazaleh N, Aldavood SJ, Boluki Z, Akbarein H, Nekouie Jahromi OA. A case-series on chocolate poisoning in four Terrier dogs in Tehran. Iranian J Vet Med (2008) 22:Article13.

Reddy BS, Reddy LSSV, Sivajothi S. Chocolate poisoning in a dog. Int J Vet Health Sci Res (2013) 1:401. doi:10.19070/2332-2748-130004

 Sturgeon K, Sutton NM. Theobromine toxicity in dogs – is it exaggerated? Clin Toxicol (2008) 46:384.

Ramakrishnan, V., Veeraselvam, M., Rajathi, S. and Sundaravinayaki, M., 2014. Study on Chocolate Poisoning in a Dog-A Case Report. Aayvagam an International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research1(12).

Ahlawat, A.R., Ghodasara, S.N., Dongre, V.B. and Gajbhiye, P.U., 2014. Chocolate toxicity in a dog. Indian Journal of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Research43, pp.452-453.

Glauberg, A. and Blumenthal, H.P., 1983. Chocolate poisoning in the dog. The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (USA).

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