Hi Dr. Marie,
I have a 2 year old dachshund. She consumed 2 and 1/2 pieces of chocolate from a box of Valentine's Russell Stover chocolate. One of the pieces was dark, the rest was milk chocolate. I would estimate she ate a total of 1.5 to 2 ounces total. She ate this last night, but we did not notice until mid-morning. She has had two nasty bouts of diarrhea, but no vomiting. Her second time, there was a small bit of blood in the diarrhea. Do you think this amount of chocolate will cause damage?
I gave her very little food (the prescription I.d. diet). It do have metronidazole home. Should I give it to her?
Most of these types of chocolate, even the dark chocolate ones really have more sugar than chocolate in them. It's probably the sugar that is causing the problems. Just to be sure though, let's run some numbers through my chocolate toxicity calculator.
Dachshunds can really vary in size so I'm going to do a couple of calculations, one with her at 10 lbs and another with her at 25 lbs.
If she ate 2 ounces of chocolate and only 1 was dark chocolate, assuming the whole candy was made up of dark chocolate then according to the calculator a 25 lb dog would not be expected to have any serious symptoms and a 10 lb dog may have mild symptoms.
However, I am guessing that that chocolate was not 1 oz of pure dark chocolate. It was probably only a small amount of dark chocolate and mostly sugar. Also, milk chocolate has very little theobromine in it so it is rarely toxic to dogs other than the effects that sugar can have.
The blood in the stool likely means that there is inflammation in the intestines. I don't get too worried about a little bit of blood. But if there was a massive amount of blood and she was acting very unwell then I would take her to the vet right away.
In most cases, when a dog eats something rich like this and gets intestinal upset it really helps to take her food away for 24 hours and still let her have water. Then, just give her small amounts of food the next day. I usually say to give small amounts of boiled chicken and rice, but if she is on l.d. then I would stick with that. Chicken has a lot of protein and l/d is a low protein food. Just be careful not to let her have anything other than her dog food for a few days.
Here are some criteria that would make me want to take her to the vet:
-If the diarrhea lasts more than 48 hours.
-If she is starting to act very unwell and not want to eat.
-If she is vomiting several times per day. (Then I would be worried about pancreatitis.)
Just so you know, the symptoms of chocolate toxicity include tremors and possible seizures, a high heart rate and hyperactivity. If you think this is happening then I would get her to the vet just to be sure.
Regarding the metronidazole, I can't legally advise on whether or not to give it. That's a decision you need to make with your vet. But, in most cases of mild intestinal upset, doing the 24 fast followed by small meals should cure the problem. If not then I would recommend seeing your vet before giving medication.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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