Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Chocolate toxicity

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Cause: ingestion of any form of chocolate.
  • Signs: gastrointestinal signs, agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures.
  • Diagnosis: history, clinical signs,
  • Treatment: supportive and symptomatic. Emesis, activated charcoal, fluid diuresis.
  • Prognosis: depends on amount ingested; grave if >7 g chocolate is eaten by a 1 kg ferret.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Relative amounts of methylxanthines found in common forms of chocolate:
    • White chocolate: theobromine 0.25 mg/30 g; caffeine 0.85 mg/30 g.
    • Milk chocolate: theobromine 44-56 mg/30 g; caffeine 6 mg/30 g.
    • Semi-sweet chocolate chips: theobromine 138 mg/30 g; caffeine 22 mg/30 g.
    • Unsweetened baker’s chocolate: theobromine 393 mg/30 g; caffeine 8-13 mg/30 g.
    • Dry cocoa powder: theobromine 13-737 mg/30 g; caffeine 5-42 mg/30 g.
  • Total methylxanthine dosages around 10-15 mg/kg can result in gastrointestinal upset (principally vomiting and diarrhea).
  • At dosages >40-50 mg/kg tachycardia may be seen.
  • Dosages >60 mg/kg can result in CNS stimulation with tremors and seizures.
  • Doses >100 mg/kg can cause acute death, ie eating 7 g of unsweetened baker’s chocolate may be enough to kill a 1 kg ferret.
  • See also Toxicosis overview.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Owners giving chocolate to their ferrets, or ferrets gaining access to and ingesting chocolate.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers


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