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Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

The holiday season brings all kinds of delicious goodies and often dogs join in on the indulgence whether they are supposed to or not. Chocolate ingestion is one of the most common emergencies that we see this time of year.

Even a very small amount of chocolate can be toxic to dogs. The severity of illness from eating chocolate depends on two things: how dark the chocolate is, and how much is eaten.

The toxic ingredient in chocolate is called theobromine. This is present in higher amounts in dark chocolate, therefore the darker the chocolate the worse the toxicity. White chocolate does not contain theobromine so it is not technically toxic, though it can still cause severe digestive upset and pancreatitis.

If your dog has eaten chocolate the first thing you must do is estimate how much is eaten and check what kind of chocolate it is (ie milk chocolate vs dark chocolate). Then call your veterinarian to determine if a toxic amount has been ingested. Because of the variety of types of chocolate, veterinarians at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital use a special chocolate toxicity calculator to determine toxicity levels.

Toxicity symptoms vary from vomiting and diarrhea to tremors, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and even death.

Immediate veterinary care is required after a toxic ingestion of chocolate. This is to induce vomiting and sometimes administer activated charcoal and IV fluids.

Prevention is the best medicine so be sure to keep all baked goods and chocolate inaccessible to dogs (including the ones wrapped under the Christmas tree!)

The staff at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital wishes you and your furry family a healthy and happy Christmas!

Written by  Dr Hayley Biederbeck. DMV

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