Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chocolate Can Poison Your Dog

With Halloween just around the corner, it is important to know that chocolate is poison to dogs. Once dogs have tasted chocolate, they want more. And for dogs, that's a bad thing. The problem, according to veterinary experts, is that eating a speck of chocolate leads a dog to crave more. It can mean that your dog will jump at an opportunity to get any type of chocolate. Certain chocolates in large amounts can be lethal.

"Chocolate ingestions are one common reason why pet owners and veterinarians call us," said ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. There is always a rise in chocolate calls around holidays, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter.

Why is chocolate lethal? Chocolate contains theobromine which is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean. Theobromine increases urination and affects the central nervous system as well as heart muscle.

You can recognize that your dog has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate from the symptoms. Within the first few hours, the evidence includes vomiting, diarrhea or hyperactivity. As time passes and there's increased absorption of the toxic substance, you'll see an increase in the dog's heart rate, which can cause arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination or excessive panting. This can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

To answer the question "how much is too much" is not simple. The health and age of your dog must be considered. Not all chocolate is the same. Some has a small amount of theobromine and others have large amounts. The quantity eaten has a relationship with the weight of your dog.

Baking chocolate has 450 mg of theobromine per ounce.
Semi-sweet chocolate has 260 mg per ounce.
Milk chocolate has 60 mg per ounce.
Hot chocolate has 12 mg per ounce.
White chocolate has 1 mg per ounce.

If your dog has eaten chocolate call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435