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Miscellaneous: Chocolate (Drug class: Methylxanthines) - X




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This article is from the Pet Owner's Guide to Common Small Animal Poisons, by Julie Dahlke, DVM, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Miscellaneous: Chocolate (Drug class: Methylxanthines) - X

It often surprises pet owners to discover that for animals, chocolate
is poisonous in sufficient dosages. Specifically it is the drugs in
chocolate, theobromine and caffeine (of the drug class
methylxanthines), that are toxic to pets. Only a moderate amount needs
to be eaten by an animal, typically a dog, in order to be poisonous
(approx. 1/2 oz. of baking chocolate per pound of body weight and less
in some animals). With the poison in this case being so appealing,
overdose is not a rare occurrence. Poisonings of this type typically
occur during the holiday seasons of Easter, Christmas and
Halloween. Depending on their appetite and the specific ingredients
contained in the recipe, some dogs have ingested a toxic dose of
chocolate by eating an entire pan of brownies or another chocolate
dessert, particularly one containing baking chocolate. Fortunately,
the animal frequently vomits soon after which reduces the amount of
poison in the stomach available to act on the body and decreases the
toxicity somewhat. If clinical signs are seen, these can include
vomiting, excessive urination, hyperactivity, fast breathing, weakness
and seizures. While rare, death can occur, usually due to the adverse
action of methylxanthines on the heart.

Many people unknowingly feed their dogs chocolate treats (candy bars,
cookies, etc.) without obvious illness resulting; the lack of clinical
signs is due only to the relatively low dose of methylxanthines in
small amounts of milk chocolate. It is certainly better for your pet
to stick to treats he or she will like just as much (freeze-dried
liver pieces come to mind -- yummy!) and avoid chocolate-containing
treats where the dog is concerned. Also be aware that an accidental
overdose of cake, bars, etc. containing chocolate can pose a
significant risk to a dog. If this should happen to your pet, make
note of the amount of chocolate used in the recipe, the approximate
amount eaten by your pet and give your veterinarian a call to
determine if the dose was sufficient to cause any problems.

 

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