The holiday season is a time of year when people decorate their homes of Christmas trees and have busy holiday plans. It is a time for cooking and baking desserts many of which include chocolate.
Ingestion of seasonal plants
We know that there are a lot of concerns around the holidays, especially certain potential intoxications such as chocolate and the ingestion of those seasonal plants. The three common plants that one finds around the holidays are poinsettias, holly and mistletoe.
Fortunately, none of these plants are particularly dangerous except that they can cause significant gastro-intestinal upset which would include vomiting and diarrhea. If a pet consumes one of these plants you should call your veterinarian right away and talk to them about it.
Ingestion of chocolate
A lot of people know that chocolate is potentially toxic to dogs but what we need to recognize is that there are different kinds of chocolate. The two toxic components in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine. It is the theobromine in chocolate which causes most of the symptoms in a pet. Theobromine affects the pet’s intestinal system, nervous system (brain), cardiovascular system and the kidneys. The main one that could be lethal produces cardiac arrhythmias, which causes the heart not to beat the way that it normally should.
Milk chocolate is one that could potentially be toxic but is usually a threat to small dogs. However, baker’s chocolate actually has ten times the amount of the toxin, theobromine, than milk chocolate. The risk of a true toxicity is much higher with baker’s chocolate then with milk chocolate.
How much is this too much? Veterinarians get a lot of questions of people calling about a pet getting into a Hershey’s bar or kisses. Now, it really depends on two things. First, one must consider the size of the pet. For example, a big dog is going to be much less likely to be intoxicated than a very small dog.
The second factor is how much and what kind of chocolate was consumed. If your pet gets into chocolate products, it is really important to find out how much theobromine that product contains.
“Let’s look at how much theobromine is in certain types of chocolate, and then we can best know if you need to be concerned about chocolate poisoning in your pet. A 5oz milk chocolate bar contains 250mg of theobromine, a dark chocolate bar contains 600 mg. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains 400mg theobromine per square, Semisweet chocolate chips (30 chips), 250mg. Dry cocoa powder contains 700 mg of theobromine per ounce.
The toxic and potentially fatal dose of chocolate is 60mg/kg- so a 10lb dog only needs to consume 300mg of chocolate. Clinical Signs can be seen as low as 20mg/kg- meaning a small 10lb dog only needs to consume 100mg to have problems. Severe signs are seen at 40mg/kg- or consuming 200mg of chocolate.
A poodle weighing 10lbs can be fatally poisoned by as little as one milk chocolate bar containing 250mg of theobromine. A 75lb larger breed dog, such as a Golden Retriever, would need to eat to eat 8 milk chocolate bars to become seriously ill. On the other hand, the dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are far more toxic; the 75lb Golden only needs to consume 3 of the dark chocolate bars to be fatally poisoned.”
One can either look on the of the label of the rapper of the product. Many companies, such as the Hershey’s company, have a website you can go to and provides useful information about how much of theobromine is in that particular product.
Also, another option would be calling the National Animal Poison Control Center. If you just go to their website there are some very useful articles on different types of products and potential hazards within the home that you might want to be aware of.
Got a Pet Poison Emergency? Call (888) 426-4435
One thing, you can always call your regular veterinarian and ask for his or her advice on what to do.
Ingestion of macadamia nuts
A lot of people aren’t aware of the fact that macadamia nuts are potentially toxic.
We don’t know what the poisonous agent is but animals consuming macadamia nuts can actually have depression, hallucinations and hind limb weakness.
Although macadamia nut toxicosis is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours. Affected dogs develop weakness in their rear legs, appear to be in pain, may have tremors and may develop a low grade fever. Fortunately, these signs will gradually subside over 48 hours, but dogs experiencing more than mild symptoms can benefit from veterinary care, which may include intravenous fluid therapy and pain control.”
What to do if you think your pet ingested something poisonous
It’s really important, if you think your dog or your cat has gotten into something that’s potentially toxic, to call your vet and follow their directions. It is best to get your dog or cat to them, so they can evaluate your pet and start treatment, if necessary.
The first thing that your veterinary hospital is going to ask you is… what is the particular compound, product or food that your pet ingested? Next, they’re going to ask how much do you think your pet consumed and third, they’re going to ask, how long has it been since your pet consumed the particular product, substance or food.
What are some other potential recommendations that your veterinarian is likely to make, if your pet has gotten into omething that’s potentially poisonous?
One, they may recommend that you induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. Please never do this unless you’ve consulted with your veterinarian first.
Second, they may ask that you bring your pet immediately into the animal hospital for examination, possible laboratory tests and supportive care, such as fluids and administer products to help reduce the absorption of the toxin. Also, they may try to reduce the amount of the ingested substance by nducing vomiting, if that has not been done.
There are numerous potential toxic sources during this time of the year, but the ingestion of chocolate products is still the most common problem encountered by veterinarians during the holidays.
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