Death by Chocolate

My last post revealed why chocolate is not a sweet treat for pets. And at the end, I asked if you were able to rank the types of chocolate from least to most deadly.

Here is the answer:

White Chocolate < Milk Chocolate < Dark Chocolate < Semi-sweet Chocolate < Baker’s Chocolate < Cocoa Beans < Dry Cocoa Powder

Just how far apart in toxicity is white chocolate to dry cocoa powder? Well, in a 25 lb dog it takes 575oz of white chocolate to be potentially fatal and only 0.8oz of dry cocoa powder!  And of course it takes far less chocolate then that to cause vomiting, diarrhea, etc (155oz of white chocolate in a 25lb dog and a mere 0.25oz of dry cocoa powder). This is why it’s always important if your pet should ingest chocolate to know the type and amount of chocolate eaten and to contact a veterinarian or pet poison hotline ASAP. Once you call, they can quickly calculate the risk knowing this information and your pet’s approximate weight, and then determine the appropriate therapy.  Remember, don’t wait until signs start to call, by then it may be too late!


How did you do ranking the chocolates in order of least to most deadly?



Chocolate – Not a Sweet Treat for Pets

Halloween is almost upon us which means Trick or Treating and CHOCOLATE!  This sweet treat for humans can be deadly to our 4-legged friends, based on the type and amount of chocolate ingested. The active ingredient in chocolate that causes problems with dogs and cats is called theobromine, which is a distant cousin of caffeine.

Just ingesting chocolate can cause an upset stomach or even pancreatitis in our pets.  In these cases, you can see:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite

Even worse, excitation to the nervous system can be seen with chocolate ingestion which includes the following signs:

  • Nervousness
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness
  • Racing heart
  • Twitching/tremors
  • Panting
  • Seizures (severe cases)

The theobromine can also cause a dangerously rapid heart rate, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure which may require treatment.

If your pet ingests chocolate contact a veterinarian or The Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661, $49 per incident fee applies) ASAP to ensure immediate decontamination and treatment isn’t required.  It takes nearly four days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a pet’s system so don’t delay – if dangerous levels of chocolate have been ingested, it is possible to induce vomiting (if eaten within the past 2 hours); otherwise, hospitalization and support are needed until the chocolate has worked its way out of the system.

As mentioned above, different types of chocolate are more deadly than others.  Can you rank these different types of chocolate from least to most deadly?

Mild Chocolate, Cocoa Beans, Semi-sweet Chocolate, White Chocolate, Baker’s Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Dry Cocoa Powder, and Milk Chocolate

The answer will be provided next time!

How do I tell if my pet has fleas?

Is your pet scratching, losing hair, or developing a skin rash or sores?  If so your pet may have fleas!  In this area fleas can be a year-round problem but they tend to be the worst in the warmer months.   They can be hard to spot as they are smaller than a quarter inch in size and very fast; they can be especially hard to see on pets with long or black fur (given fleas are black they blend in very well in black coated animals).  You can try parting the fur and looking at the skin directly to search for fleas– they especially love to live on the rump, neck, around the ears, and on the belly.  If you don’t see any fleas but see little black specks that look like dirt or pepper in your pet’s coat place these specks on a white paper towel or napkin, drop a little water on them, and then rub them across the paper towel.  If the area around the speck turns red then this is flea feces (also known as flea dirt) and your pet does have fleas.  Given fleas eat your pets blood their feces is full of dried blood, which is why wetting it will make the blood become apparent.  You can also get a flea comb and run it through your pet’s coat in multiple areas to search for fleas – the comb’s teeth are so fine, they trap the fleas and flea dirt so you can see them.   If your pet has fleas see your vet ASAP as they will need a monthly prevention for AT LEAST 3 months (this is the minimum amount of time it takes to fully get rid of them as all eggs in the environment need to hatch and these fleas hop onto your pet to die).  We are currently recommending the oral monthly prevention NexGard for dogs and topical monthly prevention Revolution for cats.   If the fleas have caused your pet to lose hair or develop a skin rash or sores then your pet likely has an allergy to fleas too and will need additional medication – so make an appointment for your pet to be seen immediately.

Have you ever had to deal with a flea infestation?  What was your experience?

The Current Most Popular Dog Names, the neighborhood-centered social network, released last month a list of the current most popular dog names based on data from the 69,000 neighborhoods signed up with the site.  They listed the overall top 10 names as well as the top 10 names based on the most popular breeds.  The lists are below.

Top 10 Dog Names in the U.S.

  1. Bella
  2. Lucy
  3. Max
  4. Daisy
  5. Bailey
  6. Buddy
  7. Molly
  8. Charlie
  9. Maggie
  10. Sadie

Most Popular Dog Names by Breed (breeds listed in order of popularity)

  1. Mixed breed – Lucy
  2. Lab – Bailey
  3. Chihuahua – Coco
  4. Golden retriever – Bailey
  5. Dachshund – Lucy
  6. Boxer – Rocky
  7. Shi tzu – Gizmo
  8. German shepherd – Max
  9. Yorkshire terrier – Sophie
  10. Beagle – Daisy

Interestingly, almost all the names are “human” names.  Clearly, dogs are now being seen as members of the family instead of just objects of possession.  It also appears pop culture is influencing the naming of our pets – “Bella’s” rise to fame began around the time The Twilight Series came out – coincidence? I predict Elsa and Olaf will be the next big names based on the overwhelming popularity of the recent movie Frozen.

Do you have a dog with one of the above popular names?  If so, how did you decide on that name? What is your prediction on the next big name?

The Secret to Removing a Tick

Even if your dog or cat is on a monthly tick prevention it is still important to remove any ticks you find on your pet(s). Ticks can cause allergic reactions when they’re attached; in addition, the shorter the period of time they are attached the less likely they are to pass on such serious tick borne diseases as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. But a lot of people don’t know how to properly remove a tick. It seems like it should be easy – you just pull it off—but their mouth parts are buried deep in your pet’s skin so if you pull too hard or in a jerking motion you can remove the body of the tick but leave the mouth parts still embedded in your pet. And unfortunately, it’s these mouth parts that are the cause of allergic reactions and the source of tick borne diseases.  To top it off, it’s difficult and frustrating to try and remove the mouth parts once the tick’s body is no longer attached. But don’t despair, there is a secret to easily removing an attached tick. And that secret is…..patience! What you need to do is gently pull on the tick (you don’t want to pop it), grasping as close to your pet’s skin as possible, using your forefinger and thumb or a pair of tweezers until the skin tents up slightly. Next, hold in that position until the tick fatigues and let’s go.  This can take 1 minute or longer so don’t lose patience and start tugging harder. Just keep a steady, even tension until the tick suddenly lets go and pops off the skin. Always inspect the tick once it’s removed to ensure the head is still attached (you should see 2 tiny prongs coming off the body if the head is still present) and if it isn’t or you aren’t sure, place the tick in a Ziploc bag, mark the area where the tick was attached with a sharpie (it can be very difficult to tell where it was, especially in long haired pets otherwise) and see your vet straight away. We can look at the tick and tell you if you got it all and if you didn’t, remove the tick’s head for you.

So give my tick removing technique a try and let me know how well it worked for you!