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Dr. Jill Richardson


Did you know that the average American eats over 11 pounds of chocolate per year and, just this year, over two billion dollars will be spent on chocolate. Not only do we love chocolate, our dogs LOVE chocolate too!! And, if given the opportunity, they will eat surprisingly large amounts.

Chocolate is a mixture of cocoa beans and cocoa butter. It contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both classified as methylxanthines. Unfortunately, dogs are sensitive to the effects of methylxanthines which can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors and potentially death when ingested at a toxic dose.

Other effects seen with chocolate overdose is vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination and lethargy.

The amount of methylxanthines present in chocolate varies with the type, The general rule is the more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine as milk chocolate while white chocolate (a combination of cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat, milk solids, and flavorings without cocoa beans) contains negligible amounts of methylxanthines.

So, the only safe answer for pet owners is to keep chocolate out of your pet's reach. That means that you should store your chocolate in secured cabinets and place bowls of candy in areas inaccessible to your pets. However, if your dog happens to consume a quantity of chocolate, you should seek advice from a veterinary health professional immediately. Be prepared to give details such as how much your animal weighs and how much chocolate was ingested. Early treatment is extremely helpful with chocolate poisoning

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