Will your Valentine’s Day be a time of love or will it turn into a tragedy in a moment? Our pets love chocolate just like we do. The number of cases of chocolate toxicity in pets, especially dogs, increases dramatically on Valentine’s Day.
Most of us are aware that chocolate is not safe for pets. Dogs can quickly consume a toxic level of chocolate. Therefore, never leave chocolate out so a dog has access to it, such as on counters or tabletops. The only safe chocolate is in a closed cabinet or drawer that the dog cannot open.
The severity of the toxicity depends on the percentage of cacao in the chocolate consumed and pet size. Dark chocolate has more cacao and is more dangerous. Smaller dogs have less body weight, making it easier to consume a toxic dose of chocolate.
Signs may take several hours to develop. In mild cases, the clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, and restlessness. The heart rate may be increased. In severe cases, the clinical signs are muscle tremors, seizures, an uncontrolled heart rate preceding heart failure, and death.
The best treatment is prevention, and being sure there is no access to chocolate. If your dog has consumed chocolate, call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control: 1-800 222-1222. They will need the following information: type of chocolate, suspected volume, and weight of the dog. The quicker the patient is treated, the better the results. Treatment will vary from simple decontamination, if there are no clinical signs, to hospitalized treatment for patients that already are showing clinical signs.
Commonly, owners will try to make the pet vomit by administering hydrogen peroxide by mouth, as recommended on the internet. This is messy and often doesn’t cause the dog to vomit. Frothing of the peroxide often causes dogs to inhale peroxide into their lungs- another problem. Now the owner has increased the time from ingestion to treatment by trying to solve a problem at home when they should have called their veterinarian. Don’t follow that internet recommendation! In addition, clinical toxicity may still develop if other decontamination procedures are not used.
Chocolate toxicity is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate treatment by your veterinarian for the safety of your dog. Consult Cornerstone Animal Hospital or poison control – not the internet!