Chocolate and Pets Don’t Mix! Halloween Special
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on October 26, 2016 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Preventative Care
With Halloween approaching there may be more goodies in your house than normal and it is not unusual for your pets to want to sample what you have. This can be dangerous especially if your four footed friends help themselves to chocolate. Cocoa and chocolate can be particularly toxic to dogs as it contains a chemical called theobromine, a stimulant found in cocoa beans.
Theobromine is similar to caffeine. Dogs and other animals lack an enzyme that breaks down the theobromine and so it hangs around in the system. If dogs consume theobromine, it can lead to vomiting, seizures and even death. The lethal dose of theobromine depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate. Ounce for ounce, baking chocolate has six to nine times as much theobromine as milk chocolate does.
Estimates of the smallest amounts that can be fatal are:
4 to 10 ounces of milk chocolate or 1/2 to 1 ounce of baking chocolate for small dogs, such as Chihuahuas and toy poodles.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of milk chocolate or 2 to 3 ounces of baking chocolate for medium-sized dogs, like cocker spaniels and dachshunds.
2 to 4 1/2 pounds of milk chocolate or 4 to 8 ounces of baking chocolate for large dogs, including collies and Labrador retrievers.
Cats have much different eating habits and seldom are poisoned by chocolate.
While a very small amount of chocolate may not harm some dogs, it’s safest to avoid it all together. If an accident occurs, a veterinarian should be consulted.
Treatment may require inducing vomiting, stabilizing the animal’s heartbeat and respiration, controlling seizures and slowing the absorption of theobromine. If the dog is already comatose, his stomach may need to be pumped.
White Chocolate contains insignificant amounts of theobromine but still can make dogs sick due to the fat content of the cocoa butter.
Keep your pet away from all your Hallowe’en candy just to be safe!
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan