Posts Tagged ‘ theobromine and dogs ’

Chocolate + Dogs = Bad

I must have broken a mirror, no a dozen mirrors, a while back because it seems like my life has been cursed since June of 2008.  It’s like I can’t get a break, something always has to be terribly wrong.  What happened today you ask?  My dog ate chocolate.

I have two Miniature Pinschers named Duke and Duchess.  Duke is 7 years old and weighs 12 pounds, Duchess is 5 years old and weighs 9.  Neither of them have any sense and both have pica.  They will gorge themselves until they puke and nothing is off-limits.  They will eat the most atrocious rot you can imagine and gladly go back for seconds.  Over the years they’ve survived a number of near fatalities that stemmed from things they ate.

In 2003, Duke got into a full bag of Raisenettes that my ex-husband had left out.  Somehow, once inside his digestive tract, the raisins rehydrated and became grapes again. I woke up to screams and wails coming from my kitchen at about 4am.  When I went out to see what was wrong, I found him hunched over like he was taking a dump and ky-eyeing like someone had gutted him alive.  On the white linoleum floor behind him  was a trail of grapes and diarrhea.  Duke wasn’t too happy and I can imagine, for his tiny little asshole, it must have been like given birth to centuplets because there must have been a hundred (not really) of them.   I never realized how very sick he could have been until the other day when I got a spam email from Dan’s mother warning of the dangers of raisins in dogs. Who would have guessed?

That same summer Duke decided to eat sand.  Not like a little bit of sand, but several mouthfuls.  He was sick for two days, puking up a mixture of sand and water.  And something bright green.  To this day I have no idea what it might have been, although I could venture a guess that it might have been gum or melted icecream???  I just remember seeing him driving his snout down into the dirt and scooping it up like a doggy-excavator.  Yum!

About a year later Duke managed to find a garbage bag that, I assume, a wild animal had dragged into the woods.  Inside it was a six-month-old roast that was more of a petri dish than meat by the time he got into it.  I couldn’t imagine what he was doing in the woods and all I could hear was him snuffling and scuffling in the leaves.  When I got out behind the shed I found him neck deep in mega-rot and loving every minute of it.  I grabbed his depraved ass up and put him inside.  I had to wear a special suit just to re-dispose of this bag!  Well, needless to say, that night Duke’s belly grew to epic proportions.  It was like he had the Ripley.  The bigger his gut got, the worse stench was seeping out of his mouth. It was like it was in his lungs or something. He got really sluggish and just laid around, not moving.  The next day he had taken to grunting and farting and still wasn’t moving.  I opened his mouth to find that his entire tongue was covered in these tiny dark reddish purple spots.  I still have no idea what he contracted, but it took him a full six days to recover.  There were a few times I thought I had lost him.

A few years back my retarded ex-husband had acquired some pot laced chocolate chip cookies.  He had fed them to some of his friends and when they ended up practically comatosed, he decided not to eat them himself.  I don’t smoke pot and I kept telling him to get rid of them.  One day they disappeared so I assumed he’d found a new victim to feed them to.  I hadn’t seen the paper announcing any unexpected deaths, so I didn’t worry.  He and I went out to dinner one night and we came home to a dark house.  When I walked into the living room I flipped the light on and heard the most agonized screaming coming from the spare room.  I just about had a heart attack it scared me so bad and before I had a chance to find the dog making the sound, she barreled out of the spare room and up the hall towards me.  Duchess was just running around, crashing into things, wide-eyed and frothing at the mouth. Not to mention shrieking like she was on fire.  I was terrified she had broken a bone, eaten a sharp object or something.  I couldn’t calm her down and Josh and I went through the house to see what might have happened.  I couldn’t find anything out of place.  I sat with her on the couch and she just sat there, panting, sweating, this horrible stench coming from her entire body, but mostly her mouth.  She couldn’t stand up straight and was flailing around like she didn’t know where she was in space.  As I was getting out the vet’s number Josh came back in to tell me that he’d found out what was wrong.  He held up an empty baggy.  At first I had no idea what he was referring to, then I realized what had happened.  World War III ensued.  He refused to take her to the vets.  He told me there was no way I was getting the dog out of the house, that he wasn’t going to jail.  So, I stayed up with my dog all night.  Watched her seize and stop breathing, pant and gasp for air, tremor, you name it.  So many times I thought it was her last breath.  Cried, unc0nsolable.  Hating my husband for his part in the whole episode.  By morning she seemed better, though she was acting strange and still couldn’t walk or balance.  She acted like she was drunk for three more days before she regained her balance.  I’ll never forget that night and never forgive it either.

Which brings me to tonight.  I hate chocolate.  I don’t eat it.  I don’t crave it.  I’m weird, I know.   About a week ago, my boyfriend Daniel brings home an extra large bag (24oz) of Hersey’s Semi-sweet Chocolate morsels.  Over the next few nights, he gnawed away at it and last night scurried it away into the computer room.  I didn’t realize this.  Because my dogs are my life, my life pretty much revolves around them.  They are the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing before I fall asleep.  Most nights, I wake up periodically all night if I hear sounds, worried they might be crying or something.  Obsessive I know, but I don’t care – I love them.

So Dan leaves this open, partially eaten bag of chocolate near his computer.  He did close the door, but never informed me he’d left a poisonous substance within paw-shot.  This afternoon at 1:30pm I took a shower.  Halfway through, Duchess started barking like a  freakshow and I got out, covered in soap and water and the first room that had a window overlooking the driveway that I could get to was the computer room.  I opened the door, looked outside, found nothing and then continued my shower.  I got out, got dressed and worked on some homework for a while.  At about 2:00 – 2:30 I heard one of the animals playing with a plastic bag.  Since they’re always into something, but I am secure in knowing I haven’t left anything bad out, I didn’t worry overly.  I hollered, “What are you into?” and Duchess came, licking her lips and all perky.  I never gave it a thought.  A little bit later I hear the plastic bag again and this time I get up to see what they’re into.  To be honest, what I envisioned was that they’d gotten into the bathroom trash.  I figured the plastic was a tampon wrapper.  Serious.  They do shit like that.  What I found instead was Duke, in the spare room, with his nose inside a bag of chocolate chips.  I yell, go over pick up the bag and realize that it’s empty but for about 6 chips.  At first I assumed Dan had just left those few so I texted him.  He tells me that there was about 1/4 of a bag left.  I freaked out.

I immediately look up chocolate toxicity levels in dogs and how to calculate a toxic or fatal dose.  According to ‘most’ sites, semi-sweet chips have about 150-160mg/oz of Theobromine (what makes them sick).  One really nice site actually reported it as 137mg/oz.

*** Duchess jumped down from the bed a few minutes ago and she didn’t come back when I called so I had to go out and look for her.  I got to the kitchen doorway and she barked at me but I couldn’t see her.  I walked in, turned on the light only to find her in the litter box, shoveling cat litter/shit into her as fast as she could  swallow.  I hope this is an indication that she’s feeling better.

Back to my story… Some sites list the levels at a whopping 230mg/oz.  This site scared me!  Most of them say that chocolate becomes toxic at 100-200mg/kg.  Duchess weights 9 pounds, which is roughly 4kgs.  This means she could consumer 400-800mg of Theobromine before it became toxic.  Guestimating how much was left in the bag I figured about 3-6oz.  At the median level of 160mg/oz, this meant that she consumed between 480 and 960mg.  Toxic dose either way.  Now I’m panicking for real.  I tell Dan that if my dog dies, he might too.

I try to find a way to make her vomit and all I can come up with is Hydrogen Peroxide.  One site says to give her 1 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight no more than twice.  I shove two rounds of 1/2 tsps down her throat, but much of it ends up in her fur.  She doesn’t vomit.  Dan finally gets home at 4:00-4:30pm.  Duchess is acting fine still.

I decided to give her another dose of H2O2 just in case, though.  This time I had Dan to help hold her still and I was able to get a full 3/4 oz into her by holding her lip up and pouring it in over her gums.  Within about ten minutes she vomited.  It had a tiny bit of melted chocolate in it.  I assumed most had been digested and since she didn’t act like she was going to vomit again, worried that we’d missed our opportunity.  A few minutes later she jumped onto the back of the couch and yacked down the cushion and onto Santos’ backpack.  This had a little bit of chocolate in it again, but nothing major.  She acted uneasy for the next few minutes and went outside.  We watched her go through an awful commotion shitting.  It wasn’t solid, but dark and liquidy.  She ran around hunched over for five full minutes before she came back in.  She ran around the living room briefly and then back towards the dog door.  Right in front of the door she hunched over and puked.  I have to add that all of her pukes were quite strategic.  The first ruining her new dog bed, the second on Santos’ stuff, and the third and most voluminous, on the ONLY white shirt that I own.  I had dropped it in the hall when I brought laundry out today.  I went to investigate and saw that she’d barfed up the mother-load.  The amount of chocolate in this batch scared the crap out of me.

Over the next hour or so her heart raced like the dickens.  She was breathing kind of fast and was very restless.  Well, she still seems restless in fact, though her heart isn’t go quite as fast as it was.  They say the half-life of Theobromine in the dog is 17.5 hours.  Humans metabolize it in less than an hour. Dogs don’t.  That’s what makes it so dangerous.  They’re getting a massive dose of speed and it lingers in their system for almost an entire day, or more if you consider the fact that only half of it comes out in 17.5 hours.

I’m not saying she’s out of the woods, but since she hasn’t declined I’m hopeful.  I’ll follow up in the morning, when hopefully, she’s up and about and acting like her old self.  Until then, don’t buy chocolate, or date men who are careless.

UPDATE:

Duchess IS back to normal, thank God.  I didn’t get much sleep last night because she was just up and down and up and down all night.  At about 3:30am she woke up panting and breathing  really heavy and hard.  It kind of made me nervous so I stayed up with her.  She did settle back down though and by 11:0oam her heartbeat was just slightly higher than Duke’s.  I think she’s out of the woods at this point, being that her symptoms haven’t increased and it’s been about 22ish hours since she ate it.

STATISTICS:

  • Dry cocoa powder = 800 mg/oz
  • Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate = 450 mg/oz
  • Cocoa bean mulch = 255 mg/oz
  • semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate is = 150-160 mg/oz
  • Milk chocolate = 44-64 mg Theobromine per oz chocolate
  • White chocolate contains an insignificant source of methylxanthines.

Based on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APPC) experience, mild signs occur in animals ingesting 10 milligrams of theobromine per pound of body weight, severe signs are seen at doses of over 20 mgs per pound of body weight, and 70 mgs/pound of body weight is a fatal dose for both dogs and humans. Just 2 ounces of baking chocolate or 4 ounces (1/4 pound) of dark chocolate contains a fatal dose of theobromine for a 15-pound dog, and death can occur within 6 to 24 hours of ingesting. If your pug eats as small an amount as 1 Tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips, it may be fatal. Death from heart failure can also occur after a few days of chronic cumulative exposure (smaller amounts of chocolate eaten over several days). (source)

(table courtesy of)

Dog’s Weight Amount of Milk Chocolate Amount of Unsweetened Chocolate Approx. MG of
5 lbs. 4 oz. 1/2 oz. 200
10 lbs. 8 oz. 1 oz. 400
20 lbs. 16 oz. 2 1/2 oz. 900
30 lbs. 1 1/4 lbs. 3 3/4 oz. 1300
40 lbs. 2 1/2 lbs. 4 1/2 oz. 1800
50 lbs. 3 lbs. 5 1/2 oz. 2250
60 lbs. 3 3/4 lbs. 6 3/4 oz. 2700
70 lbs. 4 3/4 lbs. 8 1/2 oz. 3400