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Chocolates And Other Foods Bad For Dogs

Education > Dog Health & Behaviour 10th April 2019
 


Chocolates contain substances known as methylxanthines (specifically theobromine) which are toxic to dogs and cats in certain amounts. Theobromine is a stimulant similar to caffeine. It is present at higher levels in dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate compared to milk and white chocolate. The toxicity of theobromine, therefore, differs according to:

  • type of chocolate ingested
  • amount of chocolate ingested
  • size of the dog or cat

A 50g bar of dark chocolate can cause potentially life-threatening toxicity in a small dog or cat. If your pet has ingested chocolate, take her to the vet immediately. It is important to bring along the chocolate packaging, if possible, so that we can calculate toxicity levels based on weight.

CLINICAL SIGNS OF CHOCOLATE TOXICITY INCLUDE:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • hyperactivity
  • Increased reflex responses
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitations
  • muscle tremors
  • seizures



TREATMENT DEPENDS ON SEVERITY OF TOXICITY AND INVOLVES:

  • emesis induction (inducing vomiting)
  • giving activated charcoal to bind to the chocolate
  • putting the patient on intravenous fluids

OTHER HUMAN FOODS WE SHOULD NOT FEED OUR DOGS AND CATS:

  • Alcohol: Just a little alcohol can cause vomiting, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and even death.
  • Grapes & Raisins: Substance in grapes and raisins is known to cause kidney failure.
  • Milk: Most dogs and cats do not produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance leads to soft stools, digestive upset or food allergies.
  • Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and elevated body temperature. Other nuts, like almonds and walnuts, contain high amounts of fats which can potentially cause pancreatitis.
  • Onions: Large amounts of onions (or garlic) can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage, leading to anaemia.
  • Salty Foods: Do not share salty snacks (e.g. potato chips, pretzels) with your dog. Large amounts of salt can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures.
  • Cooked Bones: Cooked bones can easily splinter when chewed and cause internal injuries to your pet.
  • Xylitol: This artificial sweetener is used in products like candy, baked goods, toothpaste. Xylitol can cause increased insulin to circulate in your pet’s body, leading to hypoglycemia (lowered blood sugar levels) and liver failure.

Keep chocolates and other toxic foods out of your pets’ reach. If you suspect they have ingested a toxic food item, take them to your vet immediately. For after hours and emergency, call us at 6251 7666. Do not ‘wait and see’. Prompt treatment can save your pet’s life.