by Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other holidays involve the presence foods that may pose health hazards to our pets when inappropriately consumed. Dietary indiscretion is the inappropriate consumption of foods or environmental materials. Dietary indiscretion commonly leads to some degree of illness that motivates a pet owner to present their pet to a veterinarian for examination. Around Halloween, dietary indiscretion involving chocolate is one of the most common toxic exposures I see affecting dogs in my clinical practice.
Dogs are very sensitive to stimulating chemicals, such as theobromine, which is found in chocolate. Theobromine is a member of the methylxanthine class of chemical compounds. Methylxanthines also include caffeine, the primary methylxanthine found in coffee and soda. Dogs metabolize theobromine at a slower rate than humans, therefore they are more susceptible to toxicity resulting from dietary indiscretion involving chocolate. Gastrointestinal, urogenital, cardiovascular, and neurologic systems can be adversely affected. Gastrointestinal signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and increased water consumption. Urogenital signs include increased urination or urinary incontinence. Cardiovascular signs include increased heart rate and arrhythmia. Neurologic signs include restlessness, muscle tremors, seizure activity, and, in severe cases, death.
In general, the highest concentrations of theobromine are found in baking and dark chocolate. Semisweet and milk chocolate contain lesser, yet still concerning theobromine concentrations. The lowest concentrations of theobromine are present in chocolate flavored commercial products and baked goods.
Additionally, chocolate contains fat, sugar, and other ingredients that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and pancreatitis. If you believe your pet has consumed a toxic substance, immediately seek advice from your local veterinarian or veterinary emergency hospital. You may need to start a consultation with the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) by calling 888-426-4435. The APCC is a service offered by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It is worth the $60 spent on this consultation, as a board-certified veterinary toxicologist will advise you and your veterinarian on how to best address your pet’s particular toxicity. Helpful information can be also found on www.aspca.org.
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About Dr. Patrick Mahaney of TLC West Hollywood: Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD graduated from University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In 2000, Dr. Mahaney completed an Internship at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C., and has since practiced in a variety of hospitals, doing both general and emergency practice.
Dr. Mahaney moved to Los Angeles to join the TLC Pet Medical Center team in early 2006. His practice philosophy is to improve the quality of life for both pets and their owner’s by establishing client relationships with open lines of communication and providing optimum care within his capabilities.
Dr. Mahaney completed the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society basic course in 2006 and is now a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). He is especially interested in chronic pain management and uses a variety of modalities, including acupuncture, to improve the comfort level of his patients. Dr. Mahaney strongly believes that many canine and feline diseases can be better managed by incorporating both Western and Eastern treatments. In 2008, Dr. Mahaney incorporated his own small business, California Pet Acupuncture & Wellness (CPAW). CPAW offers in-home acupuncture and musculoskeletal therapy, pet appropriate environment consultation, veterinary supervised exercise sessions, and euthanasia.
Dr. Mahaney will be taking the Canine Rehabilitation Institute physical therapy course in 2009. He is currently in the initial stages of creating a veterinary physical therapy and wellness facility.
Having lived in Philadelphia, DC, and Seattle, Dr. Mahaney feels as though Los Angeles’ mix of city, nature, and culture make it the ideal place to establish both personal and professional roots. Dr. Mahaney resides in West Hollywood with his Welsh Terrier, Cardiff. He and Cardiff enjoy canyon hiking, urban trekking, running on the beach. Dr. Mahaney also enjoys working out, playing tennis, doing yoga, going to museums, cosmetically improving his home, propagating plants, and spending quality time with friends and family.
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