If your dog ate Hershey kisses, you are right to be concerned. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and the level of toxicity is dependent on various factors such as your dog's weight, whether your dog ate Hershey kisses of a certain type and the quantity your dog ingested.
If your dog ate Hershey kisses, it is therefore important to evaluate whether your dog ingested a toxic dose and then seeking veterinary intervention as quickly as possible.
Following is some information on chocolate toxicity in dogs what to do if your dog ate Hershey kisses by veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec.
Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
It is no secret that our furry canine friends are voracious eaters willing to eat everything. Unfortunately, more often than not, that includes things that can be harmful. An example of harmful and potentially toxic common household product for dogs is chocolate.
Chocolate is derived from ground, roasted seeds of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Chocolate contains a group of substances known as methylxanthines.
This group includes several active substances, among which, the most important are caffeine and theobromine. Both caffeine and theobromine are similar in both structure and effects. However, the theobromine is present in much higher levels than the caffeine.
When introduced in the organism, the theobromine acts like a potent diuretic ( which increases the elimination of fluids from the body), heart stimulant (makes the heart work stronger and faster),blood vessel dilator (makes the blood vessels larger in diameter, thus decreasing the general blood pressure) and smooth muscle relaxant.
These effects are the same for both humans and dogs. However, humans are capable of breaking down the theobromine quickly. On the flip side, dogs metabolize the theobromine slowly, thus increasing its chances of acting toxic.
"Humans can easily digest and excrete methylxanthines, the half life of theobromine being 2-3 hours. However absorption in dogs is slow, with metabolism in the liver and extrahepatic recirculation before excretion in the urine. The half life of theobromine in dogs is about 18 hours."~Chocolate poisoning
Help, My Dog Ate Hershey Kisses!
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of methylxanthines. For example:
Milk chocolate – is toxic if ingested in amounts of 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight
Semi-sweet chocolate – is toxic if ingested in amounts of 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight
Dark chocolate – is toxic if ingested in amounts of 0.1 ounces per pound of body weight.
Generally speaking, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater toxicity it holds for dogs.
If your dog ate Hershey Kisses, the first thing you need to do is determine what type of chocolate and in which amount.
Once you have determined those two factors call your vet. Depending on the type and amount of ingested chocolate, the vet will either recommend you to monitor the dog or to induce vomiting and rush the dog at the vet’s office.
For example, when it comes to Hershey Kisses, it should be stated that a package of Hershey Kisses with milk Chocolate that weighs 41 grams and has 9 kiss pieces, contains 61 milligrams of theobromine and 9 milligrams of caffeine (source PetMD).
The level of theobromine in a package of Hershey Kisses with Dark Chocolate is higher – 74 milligrams.
Bottom line, if ingested in the right amount, any chocolate can be toxic for any dog, regardless its body weight.
Hint: your dog ate Hershey Kisses and need help calculating if your dog ingested a toxic amount? Use this handy chocolate toxicity calculator. However, consider that there are always chances for variable individual sensitivities to methylxanthines such as theobromine!
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
It should be noted, that theobromine poisoning causes severe clinical signs, and if left untreated, it can lead to various medical complications that more often than not, end fatally.
The clinical signs of poisoning depend on the amount and type of chocolate that were eaten.
Generally, the most common signs include:
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Increased reflex responses
- Muscle rigidity
- In cases of advanced intoxication, the dog may show signs like cardiac failure and weakness.
The clinical signs of chocolate poisoning may take 6 to 12 hours to develop, and once developed, due to the theobromine’s long half-life, can last for several days.
The fact that the theobromine may be re-absorbed from the bladder makes the clinical picture even more complicated.
At the Vet's Office
Diagnosis should be based on either the history of exposure retrieved by talking with the owner (if he actually saw the dog eating chocolate) and presenting clinical signs or if the owner is not aware of what happened, than on the results retrieved by examining the dog, as well as the presenting clinical signs.
If your dog ate Hershey Kisses of any other type of chocolate in toxic amounts, to rule out potential organ failures, the vet will perform a blood analysis (including a full blood cell count and blood biochemistry profile) and a urinalysis.
To detect heart abnormalities and arrhythmias he is likely to perform an EKG.
There is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning. The priority in treating chocolate toxicosis in dogs is stabilization by neutralizing the symptoms and elimination of the theobromine.
The treatment includes vomiting induction (if not already performed by the owner), toxins absorption by using activated charcoal, symptomatic therapy - depends on present signs and may include medications to slow the heart rate and medications to control potential tremors and seizures.
Supportive therapy - regardless of the presenting signs, the supportive therapy should include: administering intravenous fluids to dilute the theobromine’s levels in the bloodstream and promote its excretion, placing a urinary catheter to prevent the theobromine from re-absorbing through the bladder wall, correcting the acid-base and electrolyte abnormalities, maintaining thermoregulation.
Dogs that show severe signs of chocolate poisoning need to be hospitalized for few days or until stabilization.
A dog that suffered chocolate poisoning needs close monitoring until all symptoms reside. The recovery period depends on the severity of the poisoning. Luckily, if treated early and properly, the prognosis is usually good.
It is better to be safe than sorry. Always keep chocolate products out of your dog’s reach. Keep in mind that simply hiding chocolate products is not enough because the dog’s powerful smell will enable him to easily find them.