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There are many opportunities for your dog to get into chocolates around holidays such as Valentine's and Halloween. Chocolate is toxic due to both its caffeine and theobromine content. The darker the chocolate, the more caffeine and theobromine it contains. Therefore, baker's chocolate is more toxic to your dog than milk chocolate. On average, dogs will experience toxicity after eating .6 oz of chocolate per 2 pounds of body weight (about 15oz for a 50 pound dog), but deaths have occurred at even lower amounts.
The effect of chocolate on a dog is to cause vomiting, diarrhea, and urinary incontinence. The range of neurological effects ranges from hyperactivity to depression. Abnormal heart rhythms or a slow heart, blood in the urine, tremors, seizures, incoordination, coma, and occasionally death are all possibilities after chocolate ingestion.
If your dog ingests chocolate, please call us immediately at 223-2596 or call the emergency clinic if it is after hours. If your dog ate the chocolate recently, we will likely have him vomit to have him get as much out of his stomach as we can. We may give charcoal to absorb any of the toxins that can't be removed from the stomach by vomiting. We will also treat your dog for seizures or abnormal heart rhythms if they occur.
If you can't get in to us immediately, we may instruct you to give hydrogen peroxide to your dog to cause him or her to vomit. Hydrogen peroxide can cause ulcers of the GI tract and narrowing of the esophagus, so it is not without risk and should not be given without direction from your veterinarian. Dogs should receive about 5mL (about a teaspoon) of a 3% hydrogen peroxide by mouth, and then another 5mL 10 minutes later if there is no vomiting after the first dose.