Chocolate Toxicity – My Dog / Cat ate Chocolate!
Chocolate, among other ingredients, contains caffeine and theobromine (aka methylxanthines). Caffeine is absorbed rapidly in about 30- 60 minutes. Theobromine is absorbed much slower over about 10 hours. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to these ingredients than people. The amount of methylxanthines varies depending on the type of chocolate. The darker the chocolate the greater the risk.
In dogs the minimum toxic level of theobromine is 100mg/kg (100 milligram per kilogram of body weight). The toxic dose for caffeine in dogs is 140mg/kg. Increasing the ingested level to 250- 500mg/kg is the level at which half of the patients would die from toxicity.
In cats, an ingested level of 200mg/kg for theobromine and 150mg/kg of caffeine would result in death in half of the patients.
Let’s take an average size 22.7kg (50lb) dog, ingesting 8oz of milk chocolate will probably produce mild to moderate symptoms but just 4oz (half the amount) of baker’s chocolate could be lethal. Not only does the size of you pet matter, but the type of chocolate as well. The safest policy is to always consult your veterinarian if your dog or cat has ingested any chocolate.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity
- Increased thirst
- Increased Urination
- Pacing, Restlessness
- Panting or Rapid breathing
- Increased body temperature
- Muscle rigidity or tremors
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
- Cardiac failure
If you think your pet has ingested any type of chocolate call your veterinarian right away. Most of the time symptoms don’t show up immediately. The sooner you act the better the potential outcome. The toxins are slow to be excreted from the body and symptoms have been known to last up to 72 hours. Decontamination followed by supportive care is generally recommended.