Its Easter Sunday early morning and mom is hiding the Easter eggs for the kids. She finds nooks and crannies hidden away in the garden. Spotty the Jack Russell runs around loving being involved as all the kids find their eggs. He finds one too, runs under a tree and devours a large milk chocolate bunny. Just the remnants of the wrapper remain.
As a vet on call on Easter weekend this is a story we hear too often. Most people are not aware of the serious dangers of chocolate. It contains Theobromine which is highly toxic to pets. Animals are not able to break down Theobromine efficiently.
The size of your dog, the type of chocolate and the quantity eaten are all factors that affect whether or not your pet will show symptoms.
In general the darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains and therefore the more toxic it is. White chocolate contains very little theobromine and in most cases does not cause toxicity. Bakers chocolate has high amounts of cocoa and is the most toxic of all the types of chocolate.
The symptoms are usually initially vomiting and diarrhoea and then they progress to fevers, seizures, muscle rigidity, low blood pressure and eventually cardiac failure and a coma.
There is no antidote for theobromine toxicity. The treatment is usually supportive and involves iv fluids, emetics (causes vomiting), activated charcoal (oral powder which helps prevent unabsorbed theobromine from being absorbed from the inestine) and in severe cases seizure and cardiac medications may be needed.
A 10kg dog that eats a 100gram slab of WHITE chocolate will show no symptoms.
A 10kg dog that eats a 100gram slab of milk chocolate will showing gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
A 10kg dog that eats a 100kg slab of Dark chocolate will show gastrointestinal symptoms, muscle rigidity and possibly also seizures.
A 10kg dog that eats 100gram slab of bakers chocolate will most likely die.
If your pet eats chocolate always try and see if you can determine what type of chocolate it is. Keep the wrappers if possible. Most dogs will start showing signs from 4- 24 hours after ingestion. If you are in doubt its best to take your dog to the vet for a check up as chocolate toxicity can be fatal.