Holiday Cheers

Ah, nothing like a day full of gastroenteritis to remind us to be cautious around the holidays. The last few days has brought us cases of tinsel and poisonous plant ingestion, ribbon and Christmas package destruction and good old fashioned chocolate toxicity. Our previous article Holiday Safety Tips discusses some of these other issues but today we wanted to give chocolate toxicity a bit more focus.

We see a large number of dogs each year that have ingested chocolate. Fortunately for most of these pets they are partaking in milk chocolate treats, brownies or ice cream.

We see a large number of dogs each year that have ingested chocolate. Fortunately for most of these pets they are partaking in milk chocolate treats, brownies or ice cream.

The primary toxin in chocolate is Theobromine which causes the signs listed below, however the large amount of fat and sugar alone can cause significant gastrointestinal distress or even pancreatitis, which in itself can be life threatening. To put this in perspective; milk chocolate contains 44 mg / ounce of theobromine while semisweet chocolate contains 150 mg per ounce, and baking chocolate contains 390 mg per ounce. This is why it takes very little baking chocolate to cause significant toxicity.

The main signs of theobromine toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms
  • Death in severe cases
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