Bling here! Everyone at Cahill Animal Hospital has been eating chocolate eggs this week. They smell really interesting but I am not allowed to eat them because they said chocolate is poisonous to me. I wanted to play with them and flick them around the floor but they wouldn’t let me do that either!
Chocolate contains theobromine and a small amount of caffeine. These are members of a drug class called methylxanthines. Humans can break down and excrete theobromine more efficiently than dogs and cats and so are less susceptible to toxicity.
Signs of methylxanthine poisoning can include restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, frequent urination and fast heart rates. In severe cases, convulsions and even death can occur. Symptoms of toxicity are usually seen within 1-4 hours of ingestion of chocolate.
There is no specific treatment for chocolate toxicity. Treatment is supportive and may include a combination of IV fluids, special medications to induce vomiting if within 2-4 hours of chocolate ingestion, activated charcoal to limit absorption of the toxin, anti-seizure medications if seizuring and cardiac medications for patients showing effects on the heart. It is important to phone the clinic immediately if your pet has eaten chocolate, and please bring the packaging of the chocolate around.
Theobromine is found in chocolate (high levels in dark chocolate and lower levels in milk chocolate), cocoa powder and cacao beans. White chocolate does contain theobromine but in such small quantities it is unlikely to cause poisoning. A 10kg dog could be poisoned by eating 70 g of baking chocolate or 600 g of milk chocolate.
Remember do not give your pets chocolate as a treat and make sure that all chocolates (including wrapped ones) are kept out of reach of your pet.
Click on these images below to explore other hazards and toxicities associated with the Easter season.