Dogs and Chocolate can mean death

A dog eating one oz of baking chocolate would have to eat almost 3 oz of semisweet or 10 oz of milk chocolate to get the same dose of theobromine.




From Kirk and Bistner's Handbook of Veterinary Procedures

and Emergency Treatment (6th edition):


·        Chocolate - active ingredient = theobromine:

·        The half life in the dog is 17.5 hours

·        The Toxic dose in the dog is 100-150 mg/kg.

·        A kilogram (kg) = 2.2 lbs.

·        A milligram (mg) = 1/1000 of a gram


So for a 50 lb. dog a toxic dose would be roughly 2.2 grams (2200 mg) of pure chocolate. However the concentration of theobromine varies with the formulation of the chocolate so:


·        Milk chocolate has 44mg/oz (154mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 50 oz of milk chocolate.

·        Semisweet chocolate has 150 mg/oz (528mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 15 oz of semisweet chocolate

·        Baking chocolate 390mg/oz (1365 mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 5 oz of baking chocolate


A dog eating one oz of baking chocolate would have to eat almost 3 oz of semisweet or 10 oz of milk chocolate to get the same dose of theobromine. The theobromine in coated chocolate candies will be more dilute than that in pure chocolate bars and solid chocolate. The chocolate in milk chocolate is quite dilute, and this is why many dogs can eat an occasional piece and seem not to show toxic effects. This is not true of the more concentrated form.Since dogs do not seem to be as sensitive to a bitter taste as humans are, they may readily eat the more concentrated, more toxic, baker's chocolate if they get a chance.


Treatment which is best administered by someone with medical training follows the same strategy as treatment for caffeine overdose:


Support Respiration, support cardiovascular function, control arrhythmias, control electrolytes and acid-base balance, Control CNS excitation, Emesis, Gastric lavage , Cathartic Activated charcoal.


Administration of an activated charcoal slurry is a major component of the treatment and needs to be administered by a veterinarian - it is not a home treatment. Chocolate made for human consumption can cause death in dogs. Dogs are sensitive to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines. Caffeine and theobromine are members of that family. Dogs simply cannot metabolize and excrete methylxanthines as efficiently as humans. The half life of those compounds in the human body is in the order of 2 to 3 hours, in the dog it is more like 18 hours.


In a dog the compounds are taken up by the liver and transmitted via the bile into the intestine. They are then converted back into the original methylxanthines for another circuit through the animal. This repeats itself a number of times and instead of getting rid of the substances the dog keeps repoisoning itself.


There are many formulations of chocolate with varying amounts of caffeine and theobromine. The lethal dose of sweet milk chocolate for a dog is 2 oz per kilogram of bodyweight. For a 5 kilogram dog this would be about 280 grams. A lethal dose of milk chocolate for a 25 kilogram would be about 1.4 kilograms.


Dark chocolate is at least 10 times as lethal. A 25 kilograms dog could die from the methylxanthines in 5 ounces.


Symptoms include vomiting, hyperactivity, restlessness, hypersensitivity to touch (a dog will jump when touched), very rapid heartbeat, and rapid breathing rate. A loss of control of leg muscles, muscle tremor seizures, general weakness, coma and finally death follow.


Although the above information may seem a little too technical for some folks, the bottom line is, don’t let your dog eat chocolate!


Wishing you the greatest success in all of your pursuits and continued good health and happiness!<

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