Chocolate--How Much is too Much?
We've all heard it, "Don't give your
dog chocolate--it will kill him". Well, how true is it you're
probably wondering. Do I have to rush him to an emergency vet if he ate
one of my M&M's?
The truth is chocolate contains theobromine that is toxic to dogs in
sufficient quantities. This is a xanthine compound in the same family of
caffeine and theophylline.
The good news is that it takes, on average, a fairly large amount of
theobromine, 100-150 mg/kg, to cause a toxic reaction. Although there are
variables to consider such as the individual sensitivity, animal size, and
Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per oz.
Semi-sweet chocolate contains 150mg/oz.
Baker's chocolate 390mg/oz.
Using a dose of 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose it comes out roughly as:
1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.
So, for example, 2 oz. of Baker's chocolate can cause great risk to an
15 lb. dog. Yet, 2 oz. of Milk chocolate usually will only cause
Xanthines affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and
peripheral nerves. It has a diuretic effect as well. Clinical signs:
Increased heart rate
There is no specific antidote for this poisoning. The half life of
the toxin is 17.5 hours in dogs. Induce vomiting in the first 1-2 hours
if the quantity is unknown. Administering activated charcoal may inhibit
absorption of the toxin. An anticonvulsant might be indicated if
neurological signs are present and needs to be controlled. Oxygen
therapy, intravenous medications, and fluids might be needed to protect
Milk chocolate will often cause diarrhea 12-24 hours after ingestion.
This should be treated symptomatically (fluids, etc.) to prevent
If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate contact your Vet
immediately! They can help you determine the proper treatment for
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