CHOCOLATE TOXICITY IN DOGS
Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and often results in significant illness. Chocolate is toxic because it contains the methylxanthine theobromine. Theobromine is similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Theobromine can be poisonous and result in severe clinical signs, especially if ingestion goes untreated.
For many dogs, the most common clinical signs are vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, a racing heart rate, muscle spasms (tremors), and occasionally seizures. In older pets that eat a large amount of high quality dark or baking chocolate, sudden death from cardiac arrest may occur, especially in dogs with preexisting heart disease.
Treatment depends on the amount and type of chocolate eaten. Removal of the chocolate from the stomach by administering medications to induce vomiting and administration of activated charcoal to block absorption of theobromine into the body may be all that is necessary. Supportive treatments may be recommended to help dilute the toxin and promote its excretion. All dogs should be closely monitored after ingesting chocolate.