GLEN ROSE - As part of my career choice, I work about two nights a month at a nearby small animal emergency clinic. Working there, I see interesting cases nearly every shift.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there might be a little extra chocolate laying around. Throw in a little Colorado influence - chocolate laced with marijuana - and those chocolate treats pack a double whammy for our dog friends.

Chocolate by itself can be very toxic. Chocolate contains the chemicals caffeine and theobromine, and our dogs are far more sensitive to their effects than people are. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate is very toxic, whereas milk chocolate is not bad at all. In my house, I have a bunch of semi-sweet chocolate morsels.

Semi-sweet morsels are five times more toxic than milk chocolate morsels. Your 20-pound house dog will get very sick on just two ounces - about four tablespoons - of semi-sweet morsels. Consider that a Labrador could eat an entire pan of brownies and, well, you get the picture.

The signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Note that if you are seeing signs, just making your pet vomit doesn’t do much at this point. We usually need to hospitalize them and give them IV fluids to help get the toxins out of their system.

There is this really neat web link to the “chocolate toxicity calculator”, where you can determine how much caffeine and theobromine your dog consumed.

Okay, let’s make “special brownies”. Marijuana has many different strengths, and when it’s added to an edible product, such as brownies, you cannot tell how much active ingredient may be in the batch. For some people “special brownies” could just give them a buzz, for others it can be very detrimental to their alertness.

In dogs, the effects of marijuana are almost the opposite of chocolates. Marijuana can cause symptoms such as severe depression, walking drunk, lethargy, low heart rate, low blood pressure, seizures and occasionally hyperactivity may occur.

If you know you’re dog just ate that pan of brownies and we can get him to throw up, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you come in and find all the brownies gone and he’s passed out on the floor, it is a medical emergency and your pet may be spending a few days in the emergency hospital to flush the toxins out of his system.

Have a great Valentine’s Day.