How To Detect and Treat Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

It's a well-known fact that chocolate is toxic to a dog's system, but there are several variables that can affect how a dog will react to it.

Although tolerance may vary from dog to dog, it doesn't always take a large quantity to cause illness, or even death.  Of course, there are different factors involved, like the size of the dog, and what type of chocolate is eaten.  A dog should never be allowed to consume even the smallest amount of chocolate, because they will begin to crave it once they've tried it.

You can detect chocolate poisoning in dogs within a few hours.  Excessive, sudden thirst may occur, and frequent urination is another symptom.  They may also begin vomiting, or experience diarrhea.

Theobromine, the source of toxicity in chocolate, causes the heart rate and breathing to speed up (similar to the effects of caffeine in animals and humans).  Restlessness and hyperactivity are signs that this has occurred, and the heartbeat may also become irregular.  These symptoms indicate a progression in the dog's reaction to chocolate.  Other ways to detect chocolate poisoning in dogs in its later stages are muscle spasms, loss of coordination, and increased body temperature and blood pressure.

Only a veterinarian should be relied upon to treat chocolate poisoning in dogs, but you can help in the process.  Call your vet immediately upon noticing signs of chocolate toxicity.  Sometimes, he or she may recommend that you induce vomiting right away (usually with syrup of ipecac or hydrogen peroxide), but always talk to your vet first to ensure that you're taking the proper precautions.  Often, medical professionals treat chocolate poisoning in dogs by inducing vomiting in their offices as well, but there are several other methods used.

Activated charcoal is one common way to treat chocolate poisoning in dogs, due to its absorbent properties.   They may also perform gastric lavage, or stomach pumping.  Another important reason to get professional help in treating chocolate poisoning in dogs is that they will be able to monitor vital functions, like the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which can't be dealt with in the dog's home.


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