Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Worries About Chocolate

181/365 Souffle starts
January and February are the waning months of "chocolate season," when the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (ASPCA's) Poison Control Center gets the majority of its 6,000-plus chocolate-related calls. 

Most take place between Halloween and Valentine's Day, says Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, senior director of veterinary outreach and education for the ASPCA. 

Unlike past years, however, Wismer has noticed  two emerging trends.  "We're seeing more serious chocolate poisonings because the American palate is changing," she says.  "It used to be we loved good old Hershey's chocolate, but now we like the dark stuff, which has higher levels of the toxic xanthine compound."

Wismer is also reporting more pets ingesting marijuana along with the chocolate.  "We get a lot of calls concerning dogs that get into marijuana brownies or chocolate chip cookies.  Evidently, these treats are popular Christmas gifts.

"This creates confusing side effects," she says.  "At first, the dogs are agitated and may vomit.  Then, the marijuana takes over and they calm down.  Sometimes the caller will come right out and tell us, especially in states which marijuana is legal,"  Wismer says, "but, in many cases, they do not.  We also get calls from veterinarians who are trying to diagnose a chocolate-related problem and are puzzled by the symptoms.  Our advise is: 'Have you asked about marijuana?'  We're not trying to be the drug police," she adds.  "We want to treat the dog, and if we don't know what it got into, it makes it a lot more difficult. 

Taken from AAHA Trends Magazine, January/February 2011

The ASPCA's Poison control hot line in our useful links tab.

Another great resource is National Geographic's interactive resource

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