Most people enjoy chocolate, and not surprisingly, most pets do too! Unfortunately, chocolate can be toxic to pets and can lead to severe clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, ataxia (‘drunkenness’), increased heart rate, heart arrhythmias, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, difficulty breathing, and even death.

The toxic compounds in chocolate are methylxanthines – this includes both theobromine and caffeine. These compounds inhibit cellular receptors, stimulate the central nervous system, and enhance cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility. In addition, the high fat content in chocolate leads to local gastrointestinal irritation (vomiting and diarrhea), and in severe cases, a serious disease called pancreatitis. Clinical signs occur within 12 hours, but most pets will begin exhibiting signs within 1-4 hours of ingestion.

Different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine and caffeine. Relative amounts of methylxanthines in chocolate are as follows:

CompoundTheobromine (mg/oz)Caffeine (mg/oz)
White chocolate 0.25 0.85
Milk chocolate 58 6
Dark chocolate 130 20
Semi-sweet chocolate 138 22
Baker's unsweetened chocolate 393 47
Dry cocoa powder 737 70


While we generally consider 100 mg/kg to be a toxic dose, some patients will exhibit clinical signs at a dose as low as 20 mg/kg. However, often, we don’t know the type or amount of chocolate that was ingested, so it is best to proceed as if the ingestion was the worst-case scenario.

Treatment depends on the amount of methylxanthines ingested, the time of ingestion, and the patient’s clinical signs. If recent ingestion occurred, vomiting is induced to evacuate the stomach. In severe cases, sedation and gastric lavage with a stomach tube may be performed to evacuate the stomach contents. Activated charcoal is administered to bind the toxins in the gastrointestinal tract. Fluid therapy, anti-vomiting medications, gastrointestinal protectants, and a bland diet may be prescribed. In severe cases, patients require intensive care including intravenous fluid therapy, continuous EKG monitoring, oxygen support, urinary catheterization, and intravenous medications to manage seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, and abnormal respirations.

If treated promptly, most patients with chocolate toxicity recover, but it is important to understand that chocolate ingestion can lead to severe complications and even death. It is best to avoid chocolate ingestion in your pet. During the holidays (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Easter) when chocolate is abundant, make sure it is kept out of reach of your pet. If you suspect ingestion, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Open House 25th Anniversary Celebration

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 25th Anniversary Open House Celebration on September 10th. It was so great to share St Francis and St Francis Integrative Services with you. We love being part of the Roseville community and part of each and every one of your families.

Congratulations to the winners of our drawings!

Kevin Selbitschka
Carrie Nelson
Joanna Foslien
Ann Keller
Melissa Strunc
Barb Shumsker and Deb Nugent
Patricia Merril
Patti Cook
Colleen Dent
JoAnne Wetherell
Karen Anderson
Charles Good
Christine Witzany
Pat Casagrande
Annie Jones
Kent York
Kait Rudh
Mary Alexander
Ed Krum
Olivia Lagos
Annette Gitchoff
Mary Krick
Larry Frisell
Steve and Tammy Cuthbretson
Karen Milton
Pam Solstad
Doug Keller
David Voytas
Bev Bybee

Prizes included gift certificates to St Francis; St Francis T-shirts; a dog, cat, and bird gift basket; a dental health basket; a grooming basket, a kids’ dog grooming kit; a kids’ cat veterinary kit; St Francis mugs; a $25 Dig It Dog Grooming gift certificate; complimentary laboratory tests; Dasuquin; CET chews; Frontline Gold; a 4K Action Camera; a signed copy of Dr. Chuck’s “A Hedgehog With a Sneeze”; and a digital photo frame.

We'd like to extend a special thank you to our first clients at St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital back in 1992. If you hold a special invitation and have not yet picked up you gift, please stop by the front desk to do so. We are so grateful to you for being part of our St Francis family for 25 years!

Allergies: My Dog Is Still Itching

Has your dog been diagnosed with allergies? The allergy season has been quite severe and prolonged this year. I know many of you have been watching your dog itch, shake his head, or lick her paws. Did you know that we can help with these new tools?

Convenia (cefovecin) is a long-acting antibiotic injection. It is administered in the clinic and is effective for two weeks. For severe infections, it may need to be repeated. If you have a dog with recurrent bacterial skin infections and you’ve been struggling to give the complete course of antibiotics, this is an excellent alternative. Click here to learn more about Convenia.

Apoquel (oclacitanib) is a specific type of medication called a janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. It is not a steroid or antihistamine.

It is in a different category of medications which blocks allergic itch at the source. Due to its specificity, it has fewer side effects compared with some other therapies. This medication cannot be used in dogs younger than 12 months of age. Click here to learn more about Apoquel.

Cytopoint, previously known as Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic (CADI), is a monoclonal antibody therapy. This antibody targets and neutralizes the specific molecule (interleukin IL-31) that causes itching in allergic dogs. It begins working within 24 hours and can deliver up to 4-8 weeks of relief. Because is it highly targeted to a specific cytokine, it has minimal impact on other immune functions. It is safe for all ages. Click here to learn more about Cytopoint.

Nexgard (afoxolaner) is a chewable flea and tick preventative. In addition to the prevention of fleas and ticks, it has been shown to be efficacious in the prevention and treatment of mites including Sarcoptes and Demodex. For allergic dogs, the bite of one flea or mite can cause severe itching. Use Nexgard to control itching exacerbated by external parasites. Click here to learn more about Nexgard.

It is important to rule out other causes of itchiness in dogs. Dogs suffering from external parasites (fleas, mites), fungal or bacterial infections, food allergy, contact dermatitis, or autoimmune disease may exhibit similar signs to those with environmental allergies (atopy). However, these conditions will require different or additional therapy to manage.

Consult your veterinarian about whether Convenia, Apoquel, Cytopoint, and Nexgard are good choices for your itchy dog. To schedule an appointment, you may reach us at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

News Briefs

Congratulations to Molly Moy, our Practice Manager, on her 15 year anniversary with St Francis. St Francis could not function the way that it does without Molly's leadership, dedication, knowledge, and skill. Thank you!

Congratulations to Sarah Welch, CVT; Katarina Ziegler; and Allison Gedstad for celebrating their 5 year anniversaries with St Francis this year.

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Roeser and Dillon Krenz on their wedding held September 29th.

Well-Managed Practice Group
We are honored to be part of a national veterinary management group called the Well-Managed Practice Group. This group of 60 practices across the nation sets the standards for managing veterinary practices, including the client and patient care, team leadership, human resources, marketing, and financial management aspects. We recently hosted 30 members of this group in Minneapolis. It was a success and a great opportunity to share St Francis with our colleagues from across the country.

National Veterinary Technician Week October 15-21, 2017
Today kicks off the start to National Veterinary Technician Week. Veterinary technicians are critical to the day-to-day function of veterinary practices, and play vital roles in preserving animal health and welfare. Although we value veterinary technicians every day of the year, we take this week to honor their commitment to compassionate, high-quality veterinary care for all animals.

Please take a moment this week to say thank you to all of the technicians and assistants that make St Francis as amazing as it is today!