This is “Honey.” She is a rescued stray Pitbull mix that wormed her way into the heart of her adopted mother. She got her name because her owner thought her eyes looked as sweet as honey. She has been the most “trying” dog her owner has ever had but Honey needs her owner as much as her owner needs her so she continues to work with Honey and her quirks.
This February right around Valentine’s Day, Honey decided to partake in some traditional Valentines chocolates. She had eaten a large amount of chocolates including wrappers and packaging. Dr. Grosser had us induce vomiting. We waited outside her cage for Honey to vomit. We were concerned she would try to re-eat what she vomited and she has a history of severe cage anxiety. Honey vomited copious amounts of chocolate, foil wrappers and packaging. After Honey was “cleared out” we sent her home on Activated Charcoal capsules to help absorb any chocolate/Theobromine left in her digestive tract.
Sometimes we eat chocolate plain. Sometimes we eat it baked into cakes, mixed into ice cream, etc. Sometimes we share these treats with pets and sometimes our pets share these treats without our permission. As far as pets are concerned, the first potential problem with these sweets is the fat. A sudden high fat meal (such as demolishing a bag of chocolate bars left accessible at Halloween time) can create a lethal metabolic disease in dogs called pancreatitis. Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are just the beginning of this disaster. Remember, in the case of pancreatitis, it is the fat that causes the problem more than the chocolate itself.
The fat and sugar in the chocolate can create an unpleasant but temporary upset stomach. This is what happens in most chocolate ingestion cases.
Theobromine and Caffeine
Chocolate is, however, directly toxic because it contains methylxanthines. In particular, it contains theobromine and caffeine and they both produce similar effects, but the theobromine lasts substantially longer. The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more theobromine there is. This makes baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, followed by chocolate flavored cakes or cookies. Theobromine causes:
•Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms
•Death in severe cases
Toxic doses of theobromine are 9 mg per pound of dog for mild signs, up to 18 mg per pound of dog for severe signs. Milk chocolate contains 44 mg per ounce of theobromine while semisweet chocolate contains 150 mg per ounce, and baking chocolate contains 390 mg per ounce. White chocolate has virtually no theobromine and is only a problem because of its fat content.
Honey did really well due to her fast-acting owner and the care she received at Post Pet Hospital. Honey’s feisty spirit might have had a lot to do with her bouncing back so quickly as well as her medical intervention!!
Please keep all candies and chocolates away from your pets. A lot of candies contain Xylitol, a common sugar substitute found in gum, toothpaste, and some peanut butters, which is also toxic to dogs
Two Deadly Effects of Xylitol
In the canine body, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin to store the sugar. The problem is that xylitol does not offer the extra calories of sugar and the rush of insulin only serves to remove the real sugar from the circulation. Blood sugar levels plummet resulting in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and potentially seizures.
It does not take many sticks of gum to poison a dog, especially a small dog. Symptoms typically begin within 30 minutes and can last for more than 12 hours but, since xylitol can be absorbed into the body slowly, symptoms may not begin until 12 hours after the xylitol was eaten. Symptoms begin with vomiting and then progress to incoordination, collapse, and seizures.
The other reaction associated with xylitol in dogs is destruction of liver tissue. How this happens remains unknown but the doses of xylitol required to produce this effect are much higher than the hypoglycemic doses described above. Signs take longer to show up (typically 8-12 hours) and surprisingly not all dogs who experience hepatic necrosis will have had hypoglycemia first. A lucky dog experiences only temporary illness but alternatively, a complete and acute liver failure can result with death following. Internal hemorrhage and inability of blood to clot is commonly involved.