A Sweet Escape

Let’s not forget this Case of the Month regarding the dangers of Halloween Candy and your pets!

Chloe is an adorable six year old female French bulldog who presented to our hospital on October 13, 2011 for celebrating Halloween a little early! Her owner came home after work to find Chloe had gotten out of her crate and escaped to the kitchen where she consumed 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate, wrappers and all!! She enjoyed Mr. Goodbars, Kit Kats and Peppermint Patties! Chloe’s owner was not sure exactly when she ingested the chocolate, but knew it had not been more than six hours and that she was quite bloated.

Chocolate and its by-products contain theobromine and caffeine which can cause side effects to dogs. Severity and the onset of signs depend on the amount and type of chocolate ingested. The higher the amount of theobromine and caffeine, the more toxic the type of chocolate. The high amounts of sugar and fat, while not toxic, can lead to gastrointestinal upset.

Most toxic to least toxic

  • Cocoa powder

  • Baker’s chocolate

  • Semisweet chocolate

  • Instant cocoa mix powder

  • Milk chocolate

  • White chocolate

Clinical signs usually begin around six to twelve hours after ingestion so Chloe could have been in definite danger. Signs include increased thirst and urination, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness. In severe cases, signs can progress to heart arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, collapse, and coma.

When a dog ingests chocolate, it is important to always contact your local veterinarian or animal poison control so that calculations can be made based on body size of the dog and type of chocolate ingested. In most cases, it is recommended to induce vomiting. This is done so that any chocolate not yet absorbed by the intestines can be removed from the body. Following vomiting, activated charcoal is then given orally to the patient. Activated charcoal can then bind the toxins that have already moved into the intestinal tract to help minimize potential side effects. Additional procedures and medications may need to be administered depending on clinical signs. This includes medication for seizures and hear arrthymias, monitoring body temperature and controlling vomiting. Prognosis for chocolate toxicity is generally good with prompt and thorough care. Clinical signs should usually resolve in 12 to 72 hours.

In Chloe’s case, X-Rays were immediately taken and her stomach was found to be extremely full. Even the metallic wrappers could be seen. Vomiting was induced while Animal Poison Control was contacted. It was determined that Chloe ate enough candy to potentially have severe side effects. Everyone was amazed at the amount of chocolate and candy wrappers that came out of such a little dog and how good it smelled! Chloe actually had a thin waist and a real girlish figure. Enough candy was vomited that she was no longer in severe danger from toxicity. Activated charcoal was given orally as a protective measure. She was then given fluids to help replace those lost from vomiting and gastroprotectants (pepcid) to help settle her stomach. Chloe did great and was able to make a full recovery!

Make sure to keep candy, especially chocolate, in a safe location away from pets. If you feel that your pet may have gotten into chocolate, please make sure to contact your local veterinarian.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!