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Condition of the Week: Chocolate Toxicity

During the month of February, I wanted to focus the article topics around different toxicities. Because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I figured we’d start with information about Chocolate toxicity.

The compounds responsible for the symptoms seen in chocolate toxicity cases are called methylxanthine alkaloids which work by inhibiting phosphodiesterase.The main methylxanthines of concern are theobromine and caffeine.Commonly seen symptoms include GI, neurological and cardiac issues; pancreatitis is also possible.

Some cases of chocolate toxicity can be life-threatening. Different types of chocolates have different levels of theobromine and caffeine. If you’re a pet owner whose pet has ingested chocolate, make sure to call your vet or a pet poison helpline immediately. If you’re a vet tech or vet assistant, make sure to ask owners information about the type of chocolate, amount, and when the ingestion occurred - this will greatly help your vets have the information they need to determine if the pet ingested potentially toxic levels

1) Tilley, L. P., & Smith, F. W. (2005). The 5-minute veterinary consult: Canine and feline. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2) Wilson, D. A. (2011). Clinical Veterinary Advisor. W.B. Saunders.

3) Yin, S. A. (2010). The small animal veterinary nerdbook. Davis, CA: CattleDog Pub.

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