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Albuquerque VetCo

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theobromine poisoning

I Know Chocolate is Bad, But Why?

theobromine poisoningNow that you have your Easter basket full of chocolate bunnies and eggs, it is hard not to share with your four legged friend. Your dog seems to like chocolate, so it can’t be that bad for her, right? Wrong. Chocolate is very bad for dogs. No matter how much they like it or beg for it, chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

The part of chocolate that is poison to your dog is called theobromine. Theobromine is found in chocolate and is similar to caffeine. People are able to metabolize theobromine but dogs process it much slower than their human companions. This allows the toxicity levels to build up in their system.

Different types of chocolate contain different levels of theobromine. So not all chocolate is created equal. Typically the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the theobromine level. Because the toxicity in your dog is based on the quantity they ingest and their relative size, a larger dog can eat more chocolate before getting sick than a smaller dog. Of course, the bottom line is, they will both get sick.

We often get asked, “What if my dog eats a little bit?” Typically a small amount of chocolate won’t hurt them too much, it may just give them an upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhea. In large quantities, it can cause:

  • muscle tremors
  • seizures
  • arrhythmia, aka. irregular heartbeat
  • internal bleeding
  • heat attack
  • hyperactivity

They typical treatment for chocolate poisoning is to induce vomiting within 2 hours of the dog eating the chocolate. If it has been longer, your vet may need to treat using other methods. DO NOT induce vomiting in your dog. Inducing vomiting in your dog can cause other problems. Call poison control or your Albuquerque vet immediately to find out what you can do. If you have a small dog that has eaten a lot of chocolate, take them to an emergency vet clinic immediately.

The amount of chocolate may not seem a lot to you, but it is all dependent on the amount of theobromine in it. A one ounce piece of dark chocolate can be enough to poison a 44 lb. dog. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if your pup is begging for some of your Easter chocolate, give them a dog safe dog treat instead.