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Animal Advisor: Chocolate Poisoning in dogs - 14 July

By Animal Advisor Carolyn Press Mckenzie

People often ask me if chocolate poisoning in dogs is a myth. Unfortunately its not. In fact, we just had two cases of chocolate poisoning at the afterhours emergency vets last week!

There is a chemical in chocolate called theobromine that can be potentially fatal. The general rule of thumb is that the darker the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine and the more dangerous it is for your dog.

The official measure of the toxicity of theobromine in dogs is 240-500 mg/kg body weight of the animal. But there is a report of a dog dying after eating only 114 mg/kg body weight.

Milk chocolate contains about 1.5mg theobromine per gram, and unsweetened baking chocolate contains up to 15mg per gram. So potentially toxic levels can be reached in a 10kg dog by eating only 63grams of unsweetened cooking chocolate, 630 grams of milk chocolate.

The signs of chocolate poisoning due to the theobromine toxicity include:

- Increased urine production (diuresis)
- Diarrhoea
- Vomiting
- Lethargy
- Depression
- Muscle tremors
- Death

If you best friend does eat a concerning amount of chocolate, ring you vet immediately. The best course of action is to make you dog vomit up its stomach contents, then give them activated charcoal orally as an attempt to absorb and toxins present in the gut. Though the best line of defense is to make sure you don't leave your chocolate lying around.