What is Chocolate Toxicity Treatment?

The fact that chocolate is toxic to dogs is common knowledge. Theobromine is the primary toxin in chocolate, which can be fatal for dogs when consumed even in small quantities. Dark chocolate, particularly baking chocolate, contains the highest concentrations of theobromine, and is, therefore, the most dangerous for dogs. White chocolate contains the least amounts of theobromine, but will still cause gastrointestinal signs in dogs when consumed in large quantities. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which has adverse effects for small animals and may even cause death in small dogs. 

In order for chocolate toxicity to become fatal, a dog would need to eat between 100 and 250 mg of chocolate per kg of the dog’s weight. A 10 kg (22 lb) dog would need to ingest only 65g of chocolate, or a little more than a large Hershey bar. While this may seem like a lot, it’s important to remember that many dogs are opportunistic eaters, and often eat as much food as they can.

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Chocolate Toxicity Treatment Procedure in Dogs

Chocolate toxicity needs to be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible following ingestion. The treatment will depend on the type and amount of chocolate ingested. Most veterinarians will induce vomiting in addition to administering activated charcoal to absorb undigested theobromine in the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs with chocolate toxicity may be hospitalized to ensure all theobromine is purged from the system. More severe cases may require intravenous fluid and therapy and other medications, particularly beta-blockers for dogs that develop heart conditions associated with chocolate ingestion.

Efficacy of Chocolate Toxicity Treatment in Dogs

The effectiveness of treatment for chocolate toxicity will depend on the amount and type of chocolate consumed and how quickly treatment is given. With prompt treatment, dogs can make a full recovery, but delaying treatment can have fatal consequences if a substantial amount of chocolate was ingested.

Chocolate Toxicity Treatment Recovery in Dogs

Depending on the severity of the case, your dog may receive multiple doses of activated charcoal and be hospitalized for several days for supportive care and close monitoring. 

On returning home, be sure to keep a close eye on your dog. If symptoms persist or become worse, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Cost of Chocolate Toxicity Treatment in Dogs

The cost of treating chocolate toxicity will vary based on the dog’s symptoms as well as type and quantity consumed. The cost of treating mild cases of chocolate toxicity ranges from $250 to $500. More severe cases may cost as much as $3,000 to treat.

Dog Chocolate Toxicity Treatment Considerations

Some pet owners believe that it’s okay to give their dog a small amount of milk or white chocolate every now and then as a treat, since small amounts aren’t usually fatal. However, a dog’s body processes theobromine much slower than a human’s. Even small amounts of theobromine can cause toxicity and gastrointestinal signs. Because dogs like the taste of chocolate, they are also more likely to eat larger quantities if available.

Carob, a chocolate substitute which has a similar appearance to chocolate, is used in many dog-friendly bakery goods. Carob is safe for dogs to consume. Some pet bakeries may use trace amounts of milk chocolate in their treats, since its theobromine content is relatively low. However, it is not a good idea to give your dog any amount of chocolate, as they may develop a taste for it.

Chocolate Toxicity Treatment Prevention in Dogs

Do not give chocolate to your dog, even in small amounts. This may cause your dog to develop a taste for chocolate. Always keep food products containing chocolate out of reach of dogs. If you want to give your dog a sweet treat, look for bakery goods that contain only carob. If purchasing goods from a local pet bakery, be sure to ask if any milk chocolate is used in any of the products before purchasing.