Tips on Avoiding Chocolate Toxicity

Dogs

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The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) announced that they managed more than 116,000 calls to its Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) hotline in 2006, several of which pertained to common household items.

Always a common food-related call, more than 4,800 chocolate calls were received by the APCC last year, an 85 percent increase from 2005. Depending on the variety, chocolate can contain large amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, could potentially cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity. In severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures have been noted-and it could even be fatal.

"Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the potential for poisoning," says Dr. Hansen. "Baking chocolate contains the highest amount of methylxanthines, and just two ounces could cause serious problems for a 10-pound dog."

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