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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A-Z Challenge: C is for Chocolate Poisoning

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Welcome to the A-Z Challenge! My theme this year is Pet Health - information for people and their furry, four-legged family members.



Unless you just plain don't like it (which makes you weird . . . not unlikeable, just weird), chocolate is just plain wonderful. Sometimes a bright spot in an otherwise horrible day. For pets, however, they think it tastes good, too, but unfortunately it can be quite toxic to them.

The reason being is that chocolate contains two items that can be toxic: caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine directly stimulates the heart and the central nervous system. Both ingredients can cause an increase in heart rate, and in some cases can cause an irregular heartbeat.

Now, different types of chocolate will contain these ingredients in different amounts. For example, white and milk chocolate are less toxic than baking cocoa. However, none of it is good for your pets.

Just an FYI:  a dose of less than 1 oz of milk chocolate per pound of body weight could potentially cause death. Less that 0.1 oz of Baker's unsweetened chocolate per pound of body weight could be lethal. Usually the more bitter the chocolate, the higher the level of theobromine.



Symptoms of your dog having devoured your secret chocolate stash are: vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased drinking, bloating, lack of muscle coordination, muscle twitching/tremors. Please note that these signs will typically occur 6 or more hours after ingestion. Which is why it is so important to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible for treatment. In extreme cases collapse, seizures, and even death can occur.

Typically the veterinarian will induce vomiting to get the chocolate out before too much is absorbed by the body.  Activated charcoal may also be administered to absorb anything left in the stomach and/or intestines.

In general, most animals that find your super secret chocolate stash recover completely within a couple of days of treatment. 

When I was in high school, I babysat for some neighbors kids. One Valentine's Day, I came home in the evening and went out the front door to feed my horses. On the front porch I noticed bits of foil wrapping and cardboard packaging. Picking it all up, I deduced it had been a giant Hershey Kiss. I called one of my neighbors and asked if they had dropped one off; they had as their boys had wanted to get me something. They had placed it on top of the dog house on the front porch, against the wall of the house so that the dog couldn't get it. Unfortunately, our shepherd/lab cross managed to get to it (we never could quite figure out how as it was a BIG dog house). They felt terrible and asked if Dustie was okay. No one knew how long it had been since she ate it, and she showed no signs of being ill. (perhaps the cardboard packaging absorbed most of the chocolate?) Of course, this was a dog who regularly ate tennis balls and at one point, my volleyball. I really think she was part goat . . . In the end, we were very lucky nothing happened to our Dustie that night.

My sources: Pet Health Network and Pet Education by Dr.'s Foster/Smith, as well as my own experiences working in large/small animal practices as well as a veterinary laboratory.


  

16 comments:

  1. I guess that's what they mean by 'Death By Chocolate'? :)

    I didn't know about the effects on dogs...good to learn, though.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting :)

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    1. Haha, probably. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. visiting from a-z.
    Thanks for doing such a great series. Mom to two dogs.

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  3. Scrappy frowns at you.... But Chris wisely said you still get FAAAAR less than that.

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  4. Hard to believe that something so yummy to humans can be so lethal to dogs. My setter ate half of a hiking boot, including the metal surrounding the holes.

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    1. It's amazing what dogs can and will eat, isn't it?! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Our dog only weighs 14 pounds, so I am glad we take no chances after reasing your actual statistics anf information! Stopping by from a-z!

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  6. My dog once ate an entire package of those minty Andes chocolates. Luckily she was ok.

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    1. Yikes! Glad she didn't get sick!

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  7. California does not allow the sale of cocoa hull mulch (which make a great garden fertilizer). Ah well, must protect the puppies.

    Popped by from the AtoZ Challenge.

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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    1. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!

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  8. LOL i love that photo of the chocolate labs! No they cannot eat chocolate even though my sisters chocolate lab has eaten some. ugh! She's been okay luckily! But they tend to leave food out a lot. I have to watch my little dog too because he wants to eat everything!

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    1. That photo cracked me up when I saw it. lol

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