Only Smooches for Pooches on Valentine’s Day

If your sweetheart gave you chocolates for Valentine’s Day, make sure your pup does not indulge in the gift.

When dogs ingest chocolate there is a toxic element for them called theobromine, which is metabolized slowly, and the toxins build up in their system. Depending on the amount and type of chocolate ingested will help your veterinarian determine the right course of treatment.

If your pup only ingests a small amount of chocolate, it will most likely just give them some GI upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. If they eat a larger quantity, the high levels of theobromine can cause muscle tremors, seizures, arrhythmia or internal bleeding. In severe cases of chocolate ingestion, it can be fatal. When dogs eat chocolate, the theobromine causes the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine into their system. This increases their heart rate so initially after consuming chocolate most pups display signs of hyperactivity.

No matter the type of chocolate, you should call us at Blum Animal Hospital immediately so we can help determine the level of toxicity. Typically, the darker the chocolate the higher the level of theobromine. If your dog ingests dark chocolate, baking chocolate or cocoa, you need to contact us immediately since these chocolates contain the highest levels of theobromine. The minimum toxic level of theobromine is 100-200mg/kg but for about 50 percent of dogs 250-500mg/kg is a fatal level.

To understand chocolate toxicity in dogs, think of a typical candy that usually contains about 2 oz. of milk chocolate. For a 10-lb dog it would take about 2-3 candy bars to produce toxicity. For the same size dog, just 1 oz. of baking chocolate would be enough to produce severe toxicity.

If your pup ingests chocolate, no matter the type or amount, we recommend calling us as soon as possible for us to determine if it is a toxic amount.

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.