Ask Anette the Vet!

Ask Anette the Vet!

Every veterinarian gets the same phone call during the Holiday Season.

Aunt Bertha is visiting from out of town, and she brought her little dog, a land shark named “Cuddles.” Cuddles has managed to get on to the dinner table and then proceeded to consume a two-pound plate of chocolate treats. Should she worry?


Chocolate is toxic to dogs.

Dogs convert the cocoa ingredients theobromine and caffeine into chemical compounds called methylxanthines. Dogs are more sensitive and slower to metabolize these stimulants and as a result they are more toxic at a lower dose.  Symptoms may include a racing pulse, cardiac arrhythmias, trembling, seizures and even death.

If your dog has ingested chocolate consider how much chocolate has been eaten. Dark chocolate is much more toxic than light milk chocolate. Baking chocolate can have ten times as much theobromine as some other chocolates. Also consider the size of your dog. A 75 pound Golden Retriever eating a few small pieces of cream filled light chocolate will most likely be just fine, but a ten pound dachshund eating several pieces of dark chocolate may be in serious trouble.

My advice is to embrace the adage “Err on the side of caution!”

The first step in treating chocolate toxicity is to induce vomiting. This “decontamination” step is most effective immediately after the chocolate has been eaten, (within one hour) but less effective as time passes.

Never induce vomiting if: the patient has altered consciousness or if a caustic substance has been ingested.

How to Induce Vomiting:

            You will need some hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster,

–         Put the following amount of hydrogen peroxide in the turkey baster.

o       Small dog: 1 tablespoon

o       Medium dog: 2 tablespoons

o       Large dog: 3 – 4 tablespoons

–         Administer the peroxide slowly into the side of the mouth so the dog swallows it.

Vomiting should occur in about 5 minutes. If not, repeat the above step. If vomiting is still not achieved seek veterinary care quickly.

Contact a veterinarian immediately if:

      –    Other toxins have been ingested, such as rat poison or antifreeze.

–         A large amount of chocolate was consumed.

–         It is not safe to handle the pet.

–     You notice other symptoms such as lethargy, odd behavior or discomfort.

Happy Holidays!

Anette Heaslet practices holistic and conventional medicine at Lithia Springs Veterinary Care in Ashland, Oregon.

Emergency Resources:

ASPCA Poison Control Hotline 888 426-4435

(A consultation fee may be applied to your credit card for this valuable service.)

SOVSC 24-hour Emergency Clinic located in Medford. 541 282-7711

Poison and toxin information is available on our website at

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The Cheerful Vet

Dr. Anette Heaslet, born in Denmark, practices at The Cheerful Vet in Ashland, Oregon. A UC Davis graduate also certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, she has helped pioneer Veterinary Integrative Medicine. The philosophy at The Cheerful Vet is simple. “There is no alternative medicine, there is medicine that works and medicine that does not.” Visit us today!

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