December 8, 2022

Chocolate poisoning in dogs

The toxic substance found in chocolate and cocoa is theobromine . The lethal dose of theobromine for dogs is 90-250 mg/kg body weight.

Theobromine content of different foodstuffs
milk chocolate 1.5-2.2 mg in 1 g (150-220 mg in 100g)
dark chocolate 4.5-16 mg in 1g (450-1600 mg in 100g)
cocoa powder 5.3-26 mg in 1g (80-390 mg in a tablespoon)
chocolate powder 0.5 mg in 1 g (7.5 mg in a tablespoon)

Methylxanthines, which include m.in. theobromine and caffeine contained in chocolate have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and cause excessive activity of the heart and respiratory system.

Symptoms of poisoning: Symptoms appear within 24 hours of eating the chocolate, usually as early as 4 hours.

  • the most common symptoms are vomiting (often with blood), abdominal pain, increased thirst and urination, agitation, arrhythmias, salivation, and a wobbly gait
  • in more severe cases, muscle rigidity, accelerated breathing, diarrhea, urinary incontinence, blood in the urine, cyanosis, decreased body temperature, tremors and convulsions, and death may occur among the symptoms of seizures and circulatory failure

Treatment is recommended for dogs that have eaten more than 20 mg theobromine/kg body weight. During treatment, monitor body temperature, kidney function, and do an EKG several times (or continuously monitor heart rate with a cardiac monitor).

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