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Chocolate and Dogs Don't Mix

Veterinary: Prescribe Now
Pet Owners: Pick Up and Fill a New Prescription
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate CupcakeIn February, our thoughts turn to our loved ones and ... chocolate! Who doesn’t love that heart-shaped box full of chocolate candies?  Not I!  However, warm, romantic gestures involving chocolately sweets should be shared between humans. Can we consider giving our pets a piece of chocolate candy?  No! Absolutely not!
 
Chocolate is toxic to dogs. It contains the chemicals Theobromide and Caffeine, both classified as Methylxanthines. Dogs are particularly sensitive to this class of chemicals and a small amount can cause problems, including death.
 
All chocolates are not created equally in terms of containing the dangerous components. The darker or more bitter the chocolate, the more toxins it contains. Thus white chocolate, not really a true chocolate at all, contains relatively small amounts of the toxins. Unsweetened bakers chocolate will have the most.
 
Here are some examples (Amount of Methylxanthine as mg/oz:)

Type of Chocolate Theobromide (mg/oz) Caffeine (mg/oz)
White 0.25 0.85
Milk 58 6
Dark, sweet 130 20
Semi-sweet chips 138 22
Unsweetended Baker's 393 47
Dry cocoa powder 737 70
Instant cocoa powder 136 15
Cocoa Beans 600 NA
Coffee Beans 0 600
Cocoa Bean Hulls 255 NA

As not all chocolates are created equally, neither are dogs. The toxic dose for chocolate depends on the quality and quantity of the chocolate and the size of the dog involved.  It seems obvious that a Chihuahua can’t ingest the same amount as a Great Dane and not suffer severe consequences. That is, a toxic dose is in mg of toxin per kilogram of doggie.  Doses from 20 - 40 mg/kg may cause vomiting or diarrhea and doses > 40 mg/kg can cause more permanent problems.
 
Think your best friend indulged in the forbidden treat?  You may notice that your dog appears anxious, hyperactive (as if they just had a large cup of coffee), or disoriented.  Some pet owners report that their dogs became letharigic or thirsty. As in any case, if you see symptoms that concern you, see your veterinarian.

So, next time you make of batch of chocolate chip cookies or pass around that giant-sized Whittman's Sampler, just share with your human friends.

Victoria Heritage, R.Ph., Customer Care Pharmacist 2/14/2012 5:52:00 PM

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