CANINE CHOCOLATE TOXICITY
Although dogs (and other pets) enjoy chocolate as much as we do, it can be very dangerous to dogs and should be avoided at all cost. To a lesser extent, it is also dangerous for cats. Chocolate contains xanthine compounds, such as theobromine, caffeine and theophylline, that are toxic in sufficient quantities. Dogs vary in their sensitivity to these compounds. While some dogs may ingest large amounts of chocolate without effect, other dogs may suffer lethal effects from even small amounts. Furthermore, the chocolate does not necessarily need to be solid – chocolate brownies or cake may be equally dangerous to dogs. Milk chocolate is less of a threat than baker’s chocolate.
Xanthines affect primarily the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and peripheral nerves. Therefore, the most common symptoms of chocolate toxicity include hyperexcitability, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, muscular tremors, weakness, seizures, increased urination, coma and possibly death.
If you suspect that your dog may have eaten chocolate, it is a good precaution to induce vomiting (which may be achieved by administering a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide). If your pet shows clinical signs of toxicity, it is advised to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
If your pet suffers from nervous or cardiovascular signs, you should admit your pet for hospitalization, fluid therapy and supportive care, until the toxin can be cleared. Unfortunately, there is no effective antidote for chocolate toxicity. It is important, therefore, to avoid leaving any amount of chocolate within your pet’s reach.