The holiday season poses danger for pets. While many people enjoy giving and receiving gifts of chocolate, it can be deadly for dogs.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which enhances its toxicity. Theobromine poisoning can cause muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, collapse, seizures and death. Symptoms usually appear within one to four hours of ingestion, but sometimes not until six to 12 hours later.
With so many different types of chocolate, it can be challenging to determine if the amount eaten causes a problem. The likelihood of serious problems developing increases with the darkness of the chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the higher the content of theobromine. Eight ounces of dark chocolate can be poisonous for a Golden Retriever.
With chocolate candies, additional oils and nuts add to the problem. Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that with ingestion of as little as 3 ounces by a Golden Retriever can be enough to cause hind limb tremors and weakness.
If your dog has eaten chocolate, don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Call your veterinarian to determine if the amount consumed may be a problem. Inducing vomiting is best within one hour of ingestion. Depending on the amount consumed and symptoms present, a vet would administer intravenous fluids coupled with therapy to stop muscle tremors and seizures and control heart arrhythmias. Patients usually recover with hospitalization and aggressive therapy.
Kenton Taylor, DVM, practices veterinary medicine at AAHA Accredited Miramonte Veterinary Hospital, 1766 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View. For more information, call 962-8338 or visit www.miramontevet.com.