FDA: Don't Let Your Dog Into Your Chocolate Easter Candy Leftovers

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS) The Easter season is over, leaving behind a plethora of chocolate treats and sweets. While enjoying them in moderation might not be the worst thing for your health, a leftover chocolate Easter bunny can cause deadly effects for your pet dogs.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning on Tuesday in a blog post reminding people about chocolate toxicity in dogs. Chocolate contains a caffeine compound called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs in certain quantities, according to the FDA. Signs of theobromine in pets include mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, hyperactivity, increased urination, muscle spasms and seizures.

Just how much is too much for your pooch? Minimum toxic theobromine doses range from 46 to 68 milligrams per pound for canines. About 50 percent of the dogs who consume 114 to 228 milligrams per pound or greater die.
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How much theobromine is found in chocolate depends on the kind you buy. Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per ounce., while semisweet chocolate chips contain 150 milligrams per ounce. Baking chocolate has the most at a whopping 390 milligrams per ounce.

This means if your dog gets his paws on a chocolate bunny, he would only have to eat 1 ounce per 1 pound of his or her body weight of a milk chocolate treat to feel negative health effects. If the bunny was made out of semi-sweet chocolate, the dog would only have to consume 1 ounce for every 3 pounds of body weight to experience toxic effects. If your pet got a hold of baking chocolate, which has the most concentrated amount of theobromine, a dog would be severely sickened after only 1 ounce of chocolate per 9 pounds of weight.

One veterinarian told WebMD that the worst case of chocolate poisoning she saw was when owners fed their 8-pound dog a pound of chocolate which was contained in his birthday cake.

"We had to treat the dog with fluids and anti-seizure medication for five days," Michelle DeHaven, who practices in Smyrna, Ga., said. "Every time we stopped the meds he would start seizuring again. You wouldn't feed a kid a pound of chocolate, but they fed it to a small dog."

Avoid all chocolate treats for your dog to stay on the safe side. If your dog has eaten a chocolate treat, call a veterinarian immediately so they can recommend the correct course of treatment.

The FDA also has a kids' guide on chocolate toxicity in dogs so children can learn about the risks.

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