Don’t let the kids leave their bags of Halloween candy lying around or you may be making an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office. Chocolate is extremely tempting to most dogs and, being dogs, they consume large amounts quickly. Chocolate is toxic to pets. It contains methylxanthine alkaloids know as caffeine and theobromine. These toxins, when consumed in large quantities cause blood vessel constriction, rapid heart rate and central nervous system stimulation. Animals that have eaten sufficient quantities of chocolate may have tremors, jerky movements, appear nervous, vomit, have diarrhea and a very rapid heart rate. As more of the toxin is absorbed, these mild tremors may become full blown seizures. The heart rate can increase to a level that the heart can no longer effectively pump blood to the major organs of the body and the animal will go into shock.
One basic milk chocolate candy bar probably will not cause these symptoms. Large quantities of milk chocolate or smaller amounts of baking or dark chocolate are more likely to cause the ill effects of theobromine. If you suspect your dog or the unlikely cat has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, call your veterinarian. If your pet has eaten the chocolate in the past hour, your veterinarian is likely to induce vomiting before the chocolate toxins can be absorbed. If it has been longer than an hour, your veterinarian will probably start your pet on I.V. fluids and give him activated charcoal to help bind the toxin in his intestinal tract so it cannot be absorbed. Finally, if Fido is already showing signs of chocolate toxicity, your veterinarian will probably sedate your pet with an anti-seizure drug and give medication to help control vomiting and diarrhea.
Amount of Methylxanthines in different chocolates:
Baking—450mg, Semi-sweet 260mg, and Milk 60 mg
The lethal dose of methylxanthines is 100 mg/kg of body weight or one quarter once of baking chocolate per kilogram of body weight. So, 4 oz. of baking chocolate could potentially kill a 16 lb dog. That same dog would have to eat 2 full ounces per kilogram of body weight of milk chocolate or 1 full pound bag of M&Ms. Keep the candy up because it tastes sooo good.
Adopt your best friend from a shelter. As always, spay and neuter your pets.