Chocolate is so tasty and we humans love it, especially at Easter! Unfortunately, so do our dogs and it is not good for them. Chocolate contains toxic properties called methylxanthines with Theobromine and Caffeine being the concerning substances and the amounts of methylxanthine vary according to the type of chocolate. Generally, the more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is. For example dark cooking chocolate is much more toxic than milk chocolate. White chocolate does not contain theobromines and is generally only a concern because of its fat content.
What are the signs of Toxicity?
Mild signs of toxicity include vomiting and diarrhoea, restlessness, increased urination and increased drinking. More severe signs can include hyper-excitability, tremors, seizures and racing of the heart. Some of these severe changes can be potentially fatal. Often the hyper-excitability seen with chocolate ingestion is interpreted as a “sugar-high” by owners and not considered concerning. However this is definitely worth mentioning to your vet and could indicate major cardiovascular effects.
When to call the Vet and what you need to tell them ?
If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten some chocolate then ring your Vet immediately, even if your dog is acting normal. Your vet will ask you what type of chocolate your dog may have eaten, the amount and what type of dog you have so they can estimate the weight. If we suspect that they have eaten a toxic amount of chocolate then we will ask you to bring them to the vet straight away for treatment.
What will the vet do when you get to clinic?
Treatment will depend on when your pet ate the chocolate. If it was recent then the vet will induce vomiting to remove the bulk of the chocolate from their system. If we are unsure of a time frame or ingestion was more than a few hours ago, then we will admit them into hospital for supportive care and cardiovascular monitoring until the chocolate is out of their system. If a life-threatening dose has been ingested they have a much better chance of survival if hospitalised.
Emergency Hospital Contact.
If we are closed then contact the Northside Emergency Vet Service (NEVS) on 02 9452 2933 or visit their website www.nevs.net.au. If you suspect chocolate toxicity then call them first before heading over. The trained staff will be able to provide advice over the phone.