Tilda's Chocolate Story

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Inner South Veterinary Centre
47 Jerrabomberra Ave
ACT 2604

1800 785 330

This blog is written by Dr Louise Grey, one of our vets, after a harrowing chocolate experience!

This is the story of how my dog Tilda tried to commit suicide. With Chocolate!

Tilda is a very beautiful, much loved and adored 8 year old whippet. It’s just possible she could be the best dog ever! She is 100% obedient 99% of the time. This is the story of that 1%!

Last year, while I was out with our son and my husband, Nathan, was outside mowing the lawns Tilda did something very naughty. She crept through our house and went into our bedroom. This was misdemeanor number ONE. She is NOT allowed on the carpet and up until this point had never crossed this line. She then opened my wardrobe door! Pulled out a bag of Christmas goodies! AND ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE! She didn’t just eat it. She carefully unwrapped each block, separating the delicious yumminess from the foil and ate ONLY the chocolate. After delicately eating 125g of dark chocolate she then snuck back into her bed and pretended nothing had happened.

Now, chocolate is not OK for dogs! It contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The amount of theobromide differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it).

Depending on the dose they may experience vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive weeing, a racing heart rate, muscle spasms (tremors), and occasionally seizures. Sudden death from cardiac arrest may occur. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take hours to develop and last for days. None of this is what we wanted for our beloved Tilda!

Fortunately Nathan came in from mowing the lawns and noted all the chocolate wrappers scattered suspiciously around our bedroom floor. While I have been known to eat all the chocolate in the house on a bad day I normally put the wrappers in the bin so I was not the prime suspect. This time, the whippet lurking in the laundry with a bit of a guilty look was considered to be the culprit. Nathan called me (27 times!) but I didn’t answer so he rushed Tilda down to the Inner South Veterinary Centre and explained that he suspected suicide by chocolate!

Dr Isablle Resch induced some spectacular chocolate vomiting for guilty Tilda. After this therapeutic purge Tilda was unhappy and unimpressed but in the clear.

We are very lucky that Nathan found Tilda when he did and that he knew what to do. Tilda had eaten a fatal amount of chocolate. Left untreated she would have developed seizures and ultimately likely died of cardiac arrest. Had this happened when we were out for the day this story may have had a very different ending.

I learnt a very important lesson – no dog should be trusted around toxic foods. Tilda did not know the chocolate was dangerous. She only knew it was delicious. She is usually a very obedient and compliant dog, but even she could not be held responsible for her own actions in the face of such a delectable treat!

Now, when we are not in the house with her she has to be locked in the laundry for her own protection! And all chocolate is kept well out of reach. This includes gifts. They may be wrapped up and stored away for Christmas but she can smell them!

So, from a vet who learnt the hard way with her own pet – take care the silly season with dogs and chocolate! Don’t give them the chance to repeat Tilda’s mistake. The same goes for other toxic foods for dogs such as macadamia nuts, sultanas and grapes. Be aware, keep your pet safe. Happy Christmas!


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