Chocolate toxicity, which can provoke lifelong consequences in dogs, can plague a 150-pound Saint Bernard just the same as a 5-pound Chihuahua. Canines aren't meant to ingest caffeine or theobromine, the two primary ingredients of chocolate that wreak havoc upon their systems. These toxins, along with the richness of such additional ingredients as nougat and cocoa butter, typically begin with intestinal distress and can ultimately lead to pancreatitis.
Long-term effects of canine chocolate toxicity occur when your dog, whose system cannot withstand the overstimulation caused by caffeine and theobromine, responds to this distressing combination with heart arrhythmias, considerable confusion and agitation, and seizures. Death is possible. Specifically, the pancreas -- an organ that creates digestive enzymes to help food break down and move through the system -- has trouble regulating chocolate's rich properties. When dogs ingest enough chocolate, the digestive process is disrupted to the point where they may vomit, stop eating, have diarrhea or experience abdominal pain associated with inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis. Permanent pancreatic damage typically leads to a long-term diabetic condition.
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