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Chocolate Poisoning in Pets

With Easter around the corner and the chocolate shopping increasing in the run up to Easter, I thought of writing a short article on chocolate poisoning.  The VPIS (Veterinary Poison Information Service) wrote an article at the end of last year about the revised treatment doses for chocolate.  This is what they wrote:

“We have recently reviewed and revised our treatment doses for chocolate. The revised doses are based on case data analysis (of over 700 cases where the dose of chocolate eaten was estimated or known) and analysis of original sources where the theobromine content of chocolate products was measured.

Toxic effects in dogs occur at theobromine doses of 20 mg/kg, with severe signs at 40-50 mg/kg and seizures at 60 mg/kg.

We now recommend the following:

treat for > 3.5 g/kg for dark chocolate
treat for > 14 g/kg for milk chocolate
White chocolate is very low in theobromine and is not likely to cause theobromine toxicity.

It is also worth noting that the amount of theobromine in products varies due to natural differences in cocoa beans and the formulation of products, and that there may be some genetic susceptibility to theobromine toxicity in some dogs. In addition, approximately half of the cases reported to us remain asymptomatic.

Although chocolate can make dogs unwell, it is very rarely fatal; indeed, out of the 1,000 canine cases with follow up on our database, we have only recorded 5 fatal cases. We are however aware that numerous cases of chocolate toxicity go unreported.”

So if your pet ends up stealing and eating chocolate, the amounts above give you an indicator whether a vet visit is due or not.  With large amounts ingested I would recommend that your vet is contacted as the theobromine in the chocolate can cause seizures.

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