Dogs have a fantastic sense of smell, which means that they can very easily sniff out yummy treats including chocolate, especially at Easter time! Unfortunately for them, chocolate is very toxic to dogs.
Chocolate has cocoa and caffeine in it, both are highly toxic to dogs. White chocolate does not contain any of the cocoa or caffeine, which means that it is not toxic to pets but still should not be given. Every pet has their individual sensitivity to the toxicity of cocoa and caffeine.
Symptoms will start occurring 6-12 hours after ingestion. They include:
+ Increased body temperature
+ Muscle rigidity
+ Rapid breathing
+ Increased heart rate
+ Low blood pressure
+ Advanced signs include cardiac failure, weakness and coma
Types of Chocolate
The type and amount of chocolate ingested is important, the more cocoa and caffeine, the more severe the toxicity will be. Generally speaking, the higher quality and darker the chocolate is the higher it is in cocoa and caffeine.
If you have seen your pet eat chocolate then little diagnosis is needed. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination calculate the cocoa/caffeine overdose. In most cases, if eaten recently (with-in an hour) then vomiting is recommended.
When an overdose occurs and the ingestion of chocolate has not been seen then a physical examination, blood work and urinalysis is required to diagnose the toxicity. In severe cases, an ECG may be performed to assess effects to the heart.
The toxicity affects the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys and heart. Pet’s are generally admitted for fluid therapy and administered charcoal to help absorb the poison. Depending on their symptoms additional treatment may be needed. Some pets may require sedation if they have muscle tremors or seizures, gastric lavage, help with thermo-regulation and further blood work to assess damage to organ function. Hospitalisation for up to 72 hours may be needed.