Chocolate Toxicity

It is common knowledge to most people that chocolate is toxic to dogs if ingested, but most people do not know why or how harmful it can be. If a dog has ingested a large enough amount, they can show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, restlessness, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, heart arrhythmias and seizures.

The chemical in chocolate that is actually toxic to dogs is called theobromine. Different forms of chocolate contain different levels of theobromine, but as a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. So if you believe your dog has ingested any chocolate at all, it is best to call your regular vet clinic as soon as possible to see if the amount that they ingested is toxic. The quicker they are brought to the hospital and treatment is started, the less likely they are to show toxic symptoms.

If it has been determined that your dog has ingested enough chocolate to be toxic, there are things that can be done at the vet clinic to remove or help prevent the chocolate from being absorbed into the body. The first thing that can be done is to induce vomiting. This will remove most of the chocolate that may still be in the stomach. The next step is usually to administer an activated charcoal solution to help absorb any chocolate that has made it into the intestines. The charcoal solution also causes the intestines to move the intestinal contents more quickly so that less is absorbed. The third step is to flush out the system with intravenous fluids so that any theobromine that was absorbed is diluted and has little effect. These things together are all the basics of preventing the toxins from ever becoming a problem.

If all of the above steps are done, and the pet still shows serious symptoms, there are medications the veterinarian can use to combat them. There, unfortunately, is no way to get the Theobromine out of the system once it is in the bloodstream, other than to let the body excrete it by itself. Theobromine can also do permanent damage to the kidneys if enough is absorbed, for this reason, it is best to monitor kidney function periodically throughout the process with bloodwork every 24 hours.

Written by Jordan Christensen

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