Chocolate Kills! - Manning Veterinary Hospital

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Chocolate Kills!

Dog Articles

Chocolate for you pet is a killer!

Although chocolate is one of our favourite treats, it contains a substance that is toxic to animals.
Remember to keep your chocolates, cakes and chocolate-coated goodies safely away from your pets especially around Easter.
What is chocolate poisoning?
Chocolate poisoning is caused by excessive intake of the methylxanthine alkaloids in chocolate, coffee, tea, and some over-the-counter stimulants. The poisoning affects many organ systems, and animals of all ages are susceptible.
Poisoning is common in dogs because of their habit of rapid consumption, particularly puppies and young dogs as they may be more likely to ingest large amounts of unusual foods. Although dogs are the most susceptible, the toxin has been known to affect or kill cats, birds, rodents and reptiles as well.

What are the signs of chocolate poisoning?

Vomiting and diarrhoea occur 2 to 4 hours after intake, and chocolate in the vomit may be obvious. Nervous system stimulation leads to hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures. The heart rate becomes increasingly rapid and irregular. Excessive urination may result from the diuretic (water clearing) action of the chocolate. Advanced signs include stiffness, excitement, seizures, and extreme response to noise, light, and touch. Heart failure, weakness, coma, and death can occur 12 to 36 hours after intake.
If a combination of chocolate ingestion, vomiting, nervousness, or weakness is seen, take your dog immediately to your veterinarian. If possible, bring any vomit to the clinic as well, since this may aid in rapid identification of the toxic substance. Your veterinarian will need to examine your dog's nervous system and cardiac function carefully. He may want to test the blood and urine concentration of sugar (glucose) and of the active ingredient in the chocolate.

How is chocolate poisoning treated?

If your dog is having a seizure, do not attempt to cause vomiting; take him or her to your veterinarian without
delay. If the chocolate has just been consumed ring your vet for advice immediately.  02 65513990

There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning. Your veterinarian may use drugs to induce vomiting if the chocolate was consumed within the previous 2 - 4 hours or a stomach tube and fluids to clear the stomach of chocolate, followed by activated charcoal treatment to prevent any drug remaining from being absorbed.

In dogs with advanced signs, specialized medications are needed to control the seizures and to correct the rapid and weak heartbeat in order to prevent heart failure.

What is the prognosis for chocolate poisoning?
The expected course of chocolate poisoning is 12 to 36 hours depending on the dosage and effectiveness of treatment. Prognosis is good if the chocolate is removed within 2 to 4 hours of ingestion. Prognosis is guarded in animals with advanced signs such as seizures and serious heart dysfunction.

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