Chocolate is bad for dogs! Just ask Saffy

Saffy is a 12 week old Border Collie puppy, and like most dogs her age she is very inquisitive and likes to chew everything. A few weeks ago she was rushed to us after eating 50g of her owner's gourmet chocolate. Fortunately, they were aware of the dangers of chocolate ingestion and sought prompt veterinary treatment. Chocolate can have effects on the heart, nervous system and gastrointestinal system and causes symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea, to tremors, seizures and arythmias. If enough chocolate is ingested it can result in death.

Saffy arrived to the clinic soon after eating the chocolate, therefore it had not yet been digested and absorbed into her blood. Inducing her to vomit was determined to be the most appropriate treatment at this stage. Chocolate forms balls in the stomach which delays its digestion which allows a time frame of up to 6 hours to induce vomiting after ingestion. If it has been more than 6 hours post ingestion, the patient's stomach would need to be pumped under general anaesthetic, and hospitalisation and intravenous fluids would be required.

Saffy was also administered some activated charcoal which helps bind to toxins and prevent their absorption. Overall, the treatment was successful and Saffy has not missed a beat since. We are now looking forward to seeing her grow up into a strong healthy dog.

How much chocolate is too much?

The amount of chocolate needed for a toxic dose varies according to the type of chocolate. Dark or cooking chocolate is the most potent, and as little as 60g would be a toxic dose for a 10 kg dog. However, some animals exhibit signs of toxicity with only a fifth of this amount, therefore we advise to always seek medical attention after chocolate has been ingested.