Many folks have heard that "chocolate is poisonous to pets". As far as that goes, if you eat a massive enough amount, it’s poisonous to people, too. Yes, yes, I hear you out there saying that chocolate is actually an essential nutrient, that you can’t live without it (or life isn’t worth living without chocolate, or something like that). Yes, I know that a small amount of dark chocolate is considered beneficial to your heart. I eat some every day, though it’s mostly because I like it –the heart benefit is just serendipitous. Dogs are different than people and DO NOT require chocolate in their diets.
The toxicity of chocolate is very much dose-related, and generally speaking, it takes a pretty massive amount to be poisonous. When someone calls me in a panic because their dog ate an M&M, they are beating themselves up for nothing. Theobromine is the toxic compound in chocolate, and in large amounts it can make your heart race, give you vomiting and diarrhea, cause seizures, and even death. For a great discussion from VeterinaryPartner.com, check out this link to "Chocolate Toxicity". You’ll see from the table at the bottom, it takes a LOT of milk chocolate, and quite a bit of dark chocolate, although it doesn’t take very much baking chocolate at all. That’s why when Fifi gets a couple of Hershey’s Kisses, we’re not too worried.
So, when Kaiser’s mom asked if eating Hershey’s miniatures would hurt him, I said, "Unless he ate handfuls, I wouldn’t worry too much." She went home and found that between Kaiser (73 pounds) and his roommate Dixie (13 pound Min-Pin), they had gone through most of three pounds. Now, doing the math (if you followed the link and looked at the chart), you’d see that Kaiser would have had to eat 63 ounces of milk chocolate, and we only had 48 ounces total.
Plus, there were a number of partially mangled bars that didn’t get eaten. Dixie, on the other hand, would only have to eat 13 ounces, and even less if she concentrated on the "special dark chocolate" (my favorite). So Kaiser is bigger and greedier, and might have eaten it all. BUT, Dixie is younger and faster, so how do we know who ate how much? And who likes the "Mister Goodbars" and who likes the "Krackels"? And for that matter, who ever buys a full sized Krackel bar? I’ve never seen one outside of the miniatures.
Fortunately, we were within an hour of the ingestion, so the order of the day was to induce vomiting in both dogs. As it happened, Dixie only brought up a few specks of chocolate and wrappers. Kaiser, however, while he may have eaten less than a poisonous dose… well, you could have fooled me.
Talk about your chocolate mess. It may not have made Kaiser sick, but the rest of us were getting pretty queasy by the time we had everything cleaned up. After they finished vomiting, we gave them some activated charcoal (the "universal antidote": it acts like a chemical "sponge" to soak up toxins in the gut) to be on the safe side. I anticipate that all will be well, but we won’t be serving any pudding at staff meetings for a while.