Whether it’s around Valentine’s Day, any other holiday or a regular Tuesday, odds are we all have some form of chocolate in our homes. For people, chocolate is an indulgent treat, a recipe ingredient and even something we add to our children’s milk. For dogs, chocolate poses a serious risk to their health. Even though you might be tempted to share all of your food with your dog, chocolate – in all forms – is lethal for dogs and must be kept away from them at all times, even in small amounts.
What Causes Toxicosis?
Too much chocolate might give us an upset stomach, but chocolate is actually toxic to pets, particularly dogs. That’s because chocolate contains two ingredients, caffeine and theobromine, that are aren’t dangerous to humans but are harmful to dogs. Unlike humans, who can quickly digest and metabolize this naturally occurring chemical, canines metabolize it much slower and as result theobromine can stay in their systems for up to 18 hours. In this way, excessive chocolate can make dogs very sick and can be fatal in large doses.
Dogs may have different reactions based on their size and weight as well as the type of chocolate consumed. That’s because different chocolates have different amounts of theobromine concentrations. Baker’s chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate contain highly concentrated amounts of theobromine, often between 150 and 450 grams per ounce, while milk chocolate often has around 64 grams per ounce. However, as little as 20 grams can cause toxicosis to set in and symptoms to appear.
Signs and Symptoms
Theobromine is initially absorbed in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, and because it stays in their system longer it can spread throughout their body affecting their respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems. Symptoms usually appear within six to 12 hours of consumption and include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate and excessive thirst. If your dog has consumed a large amount of chocolate the symptoms may be more severe resulting in high blood pressure, muscle tremors or even seizures.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
If you think your dog has ingested chocolate, it’s important to contact a veterinarian immediately. Providing information like your dog’s weight as well as an estimation of how much chocolate they ate helps determine whether a toxic amount has been consumed. If it has, the vet can take steps to help remove the theobromine from your dog’s system by using medication to induce vomiting and administering active charcoal to help your dog’s body block the absorption of theobromine.
At Dog Day, Every Day!, we love taking care of your dogs and go to great lengths to keep them happy, healthy and most importantly, safe. This is why we work hard to create a positive, active environment that promotes their well-being through socialization. Call us today to discuss enrolling your best friend at 513-860-DOGS (3647). For more pet care tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!