Chocolate is dangerous for your dog
This guide explains why chocolate is so dangerous for your dog and what the symptoms of chocolate poisoning look like. In the event of suspected poisoning we would like to advise you of the important measures to undertake and what the chances of success can be.
Chocolate and all cocoa-containing foods should never be on a dog’s menu. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which belongs to a group of alkaloids. Its concentration fluctuates depending on the cocoa content. A lethal dose is around 100 mg / kg body weight. Depending on the cocoa content, this equates to about 60g milk chocolate or 8g dark chocolate. For a small chihuahua, two pieces of dark chocolate (with the corresponding theobromine content) would be life-threatening! Incidentally, theobromine is also produced when coffee, cola and other high-caffeinated drinks and alcohol are broken down. Clearly, these drinks are also taboo for our dogs. Theobromine is also contained in cakes, waffles, biscuits and glazes and, if regularly ingested in small quantities, can cause gradual poisoning. Theobromine has the greatest effect on the dog’s nervous system.
Since the absorption and thus poisoning by chocolate can be sudden or gradual, there is no clear model of the symptoms. Every dog reacts differently. It is important to understand that the weight ratio and size, compared to the amount of chocolate ingested, as well as the general health of the dog are crucial. So, symptoms will vary when a block of chocolate is ingested between a chihuahua or a Rottweiler.
The following are the most common symptoms of chocolate poisoning, but the order and severity of symptoms may vary individually.
1. Vomiting and diarrhoea:
The dog vomits suddenly and violently, as well as severe, spontaneous diarrhoea, accompanied by abdominal noises.
2. Nervousness and tremors: The dog exhibits restlessness with panting, excited walking around, looks around hectically, has tense facial muscles and a rigid, sometimes with a panicked look.
5. Increased thirst and the urge to urinate more: A while later, the body tries to excrete the theobromine, this creates a lot of thirst with correspondingly frequent urination.
3. Seizures and irregular heartbeat: The dog collapses, lies on its side and cramps, can be accompanied by excessive salivation and incontinence.
4. Decreased awareness: The dog stumbles and perhaps crawls into unusual corners, sudden behavioural problems such as aggression are also possible.
The amount ingested and size of the animal is crucial!
The basic principle is the smaller the dog, the greater the risk of poisoning.
Mild symptoms will appear from 20 mg of theobromine per kilogram of your dog’s body weight. On the other hand, clearer symptoms will appear from 100 mg theobromine per kilogram of your dog’s body weight. At 250 – 500 mg of theobromine per kilogram of body weight, unfortunately approximately 50% of the dogs die.
Action to take if a dog has eaten chocolate
- Keep calm!
- Consult the veterinarian / veterinary clinic
- See the vet or veterinary clinic as soon as possible
On the internet there are many tips and advice about chocolate poisoning, poisoning from chocolate associated with the above-mentioned symptoms, is an emergency that urgently needs veterinary clarification and treatment. Time is a decisive factor – the amount of chocolate already absorbed in the digestive tract determines the further course of the poisoning and thus also the chances of your dog healing. Only the veterinarian can assess the situation and decide the best treatment.
The vet may stabilize circulation and breathing or control cramps before further treatment is given. Depending on the time the chocolate was ingested, vomiting may be induced, charcoal tablets may be given, the dog may be given a gastric lavage or given an infusion. The bladder may be flushed to make it more difficult to absorb alkaloids through the bladder wall.
If possible, make a note of the approximate time of consumption, pack the chocolate wrapper or note the cocoa content. This information will help your vet properly assess the situation.
You should consult the vet if...
The vet should be consulted if you catch your dog blatantly eating chocolate and it is clear the amount consumed is very large or the cocoa content is so high that you expect poisoning. Otherwise, the vet should be consulted if you suddenly notice any of the above symptoms or behaviour changes in your dog that you cannot explain. After all, it may also be that he picked up a something poisonous during the dog round or something else happened that needs veterinary clarification. You can find out more in our article on toxic food for dogs and other dangers here.
Chances of success
The amount of chocolate consumed, the type of chocolate (milk chocolate or dark chocolate), as well as the body weight and general condition of the animal will have a decisive influence on the course of treatment. The chances of success also depend on how quickly the dog consumed the chocolate and the length of time to treatment. A successful outcome will be if you catch the dog eating the chocolate, you can act quickly and see the vet immediately. It becomes more difficult if the dog has eaten chocolate unnoticed and you only become aware when the first symptoms of poisoning appear.