Chocolate and cocoa products found in lollies, cakes, cookies and baking products are highly attractive to pets. They contain toxic compounds referred to as methylxanthines, such as theobromine and caffeine that can cause severe illness.
The amount of toxic compounds varies greatly between products with dark chocolate, baking chocolate and cocoa powder having the most toxic amounts.
The toxic dose of theobromine ranges from 20mg/kg body weight causing mild illness to 200mg/kg body weight being a lethal dose.
Cocoa contains 20-30mg per gram of theobromine, so a dose of 10g (2 teaspoons) would potentially be a lethal dose for a dog weighing 5kg.
A 50g block of dark chocolate or baking chocolate could be fatal to a small dog. Whereas, a small amount of milk chocolate contains significantly less theobromine and is usually not a problem. White chocolate contains no theobromine.
The amount of theobromine and caffeine differs between chocolate brands. If your dog has eaten chocolate is important to be able to tell the vet the type and amount of chocolate it has ingested.
When a dog has chocolate toxicity it may some of the following symptoms; twitching, vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, bloating, restlessness and tremors. As symptoms progress it may have seizures, heart irregularity (arrhythmias) and breathing failure. These signs can occur from 6-12 hours of eating the chocolate.
Veterinary treatment can involve making the dog vomit up any chocolate left in the stomach and providing supportive care such as intravenous fluids (drip) and medication to control seizures and tremors. Many pets make a full recovery with this treatment.
Please keep chocolate and chocolate containing products out of the reach of pets.
Look for dog treats that contain carob (carob is a chocolate alternative that does not contain theobromine or caffeine).