Chocolate Poisoning in Puppiesby Susan Paretts
Who doesn't love chocolate? Even your dog will wolf it if it's within his reach. But if a puppy eats it, it could kill him -- enough of it could kill and adult dog. Chocolate doesn't appear poisonous to them, so they'll scarf it readily. Because of puppies' small size and relatively underdeveloped internal safeguards, just a small amount of certain types of chocolate will cause serious poisoning and necessitate a vet trip.
Chocolate contains high amounts of fat, along with chemicals called methylxanthines, which include theobromine and caffeine. They're potentially poisonous to dogs, according to the VCA Animal Hospitals website. Darker chocolate contains more theobromine, the main toxin, than milk chocolate or white chocolate, making it much more dangerous to your pup. For this reason, unsweetened baker's chocolate is considered the most highly poisonous form. Ingestion of only 1 ounce of baker's chocolate is potentially fatal in small puppies who are less than 10 pounds, according to the PetMD website. Milk chocolate contains about seven times less theobromine than baking chocolate; white chocolate contains the smallest amount of this toxin with only around 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce.
After ingesting chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate, your little puppy may exhibit poisoning symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and more frequent urination, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. If little Fido has eaten a large amount of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, he could also experience hyperactivity, an elevated or abnormal heart rate, seizures, tremors or collapse. Some young pups may experience a raised body temperature and panting from chocolate's toxins; they can go into a coma. Poisoning symptoms may appear six to 12 hours after ingestion and can continue for days because theobromine and caffeine are continually reabsorbed by your pup's body, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
If you see that your little puppy has eaten something containing chocolate, get him to the vet right away for treatment. No antidote for chocolate poisoning exists, but your vet can induce vomiting to get the chocolate out of his system if you catch the dog in the act or shortly thereafter; a vet may also provide intravenous fluids to further clear toxins from the dog's body. The vet may give your puppy liquid activated charcoal every four to six hours for 24 hours to prevent his body from absorbing the theobromine or caffeine from the chocolate into his system, according to the VCA Animal Hospitals website. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the vet may also give your pup medication to help regulate his heartbeat.
Although white chocolate contains less theobromine and caffeine than other chocolates, it can cause acute pancreatitis after ingestion by your pup because of its high fat content. Symptoms of this condition are similar to mild chocolate poisoning, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Small amounts of chocolate, even milk chocolate, are more toxic to puppies than full-grown dogs because of their small size. For safety's sake, place all chocolate products, including candy and baked goods, in sealed containers that your curious puppy can't access. Outdoors, avoid using cocoa-based mulch in your garden because your little pup may eat it, resulting in chocolate poisoning, the VetStreet pet wellness website says.
- petMD: Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
- Pet Poison Helpline: Valentine’s Day Tips From Pet Poison Helpline
- American Animal Hospital Association: Chocolate Is Dangerous for Pets
- VetStreet: Chocolate Toxicosis
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Chocolate Poisoning for Dogs
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Animal Poison Control FAQ
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Chocolate
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images