Our Patient of the Month this month is Trixie Dobney, a 5 year old terrier mix from Brunswick. Trixie's owner brought her in after returning home to find the packaging for a block of organic dark chocolate in Trixie's bed. Knowledgeable about chocolate poisoning in dogs, her owner knew that Trixie needed immediate vet attention.
While chocolate is a wonderful treat for humans, even in small doses it can be poisonous or even fatal for dogs or cats. Chocolate contains chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine, both of which are stimulants that dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to. The higher the concentration of cocoa in the chocolate, the more poisonous it is - for a 10kg dog, a 100g bite of dark chocolate is toxic, or a nibble on 500g of milk chocolate. However, dogs are indiscriminate in their eating habits, and hence will not mind eating that whole block of chocolate left in a shopping bag on the floor, so be vigilant!
Dogs that suffer from chocolate toxicity often display vomiting and diarrhoea, but more obviously tremble and seem excited and agitated as the theobromine goes to work stimulating their nervous system. From here without vet attention, pets will start to have seizures, their blood pressure and heart rate will increase and they can go into cardiac arrest, leading to death.
Trixie's story ends well, despite the dire beginning - because her owner was prompt in seeking veterinary attention before Trixie began showing symptoms of poisoning, we were able to treat her with intravenous fluids to help flush her blood and kidneys, an emetic to stimulate vomiting and get the chocolate out of her stomach, and constant observation to monitor her heart rate and respiration. Trixie is now back to normal, and hopefully steering away from chocolate binges in the future!
If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, or indeed any form of poison, please call us immediately for advice.