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D2004-10

Dear Daisy Dog

What’s the real story on chocolate? I’ve heard that it’s toxic to dogs, but our dog has never had a problem with it. Easter is coming, and my kids will want to share their candy with him.

Daisy Responds

Your kids should keep their chocolate to themselves.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which stimulate the dog’s brain, heart, muscles and kidneys.
Signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drinking and urination.

Toxicity may progress to seizures, changes in heart rhythm, respiratory arrest and death.

Toxic signs start six to 12 hours after ingestion and persist for up to three days.

Chocolate’s effects are dose related: the higher the dose (in milligrams of chocolate per pound of dog), the bigger the problem.

The type of chocolate is also important.

The highest concentrations of theobromine and caffeine are found in dry cocoa powder and unsweetened baker’s chocolate, followed by semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Milk chocolate has relatively low levels of theobromine and caffeine, but even so, less than seven ounces would cause toxic signs in a 45-pound dog like me, and 20 ounces would cause seizures.

In contrast, just half an ounce of cocoa powder would cause me problems, and 1.5 ounces would cause seizures.

By now you should understand why, when my golden retriever brother ate a pound of chocolate Kisses, Mom gave him medicine to make him upchuck. Up came the Kisses, still wrapped in foil with their little paper flags intact.

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