Chocolate is a delicious treat for humans, but it isn’t a suitable treat for dogs. In dog training, one thing we focus on in dog obedience training is developing a relationship based on trust and respect which includes ensuring your dog listens when not to go near certain things that could be harmful to them, like chocolate. Chocolate toxicity is a common problem seen in dogs, and it often stems from accidental ingestion around the holidays, such as during the October months when everyone is preparing for Halloween. While chocolate is toxic to dogs, the level of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate, how much they ate, and how big the dog is. Let’s take a closer look at what happens if a dog eats chocolate and what you should do.
Understanding Dogs and Chocolate: Is It Harmful?
As dog boarders at Bark Avenue Daycamp, we ensure that there are never human treats that can be harmful to dogs (like chocolate) just sitting around to avoid any unwanted ingestion. While rarely fatal, chocolate ingestion can result in significant illness in dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Both chemicals are used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and smooth muscle relaxant. Humans metabolize theobromine easily, but dogs process these chemicals slowly, which allows these toxic compounds to build up in their systems and cause clinical signs associated with chocolate toxicity.
When it comes to looking for topics on dog care near me around the holidays when human treats are in abundance, it’s important to understand that not all chocolate is equally hazardous for dogs. The impact of chocolate ingestion on a dog varies depending on the type of chocolate consumed. The risk is highest with darker and more bitter chocolates. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate, for instance, contain a significant amount of theobromine, ranging from 130 to 450 mg per ounce. On the other hand, common milk chocolate has a lower theobromine content, typically ranging from 44 to 58 mg per ounce. White chocolate, which only contains about 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce, is rarely a concern for chocolate poisoning. Even if the theobromine content isn’t at toxic levels, the fat and sugar in chocolate can still make dogs unwell. This can lead to pancreatitis in severe cases or in dogs with sensitive stomachs. To put it into perspective, a medium-sized dog weighing 40 pounds would potentially exhibit signs of poisoning after consuming just one ounce of baker’s chocolate or nine ounces of milk chocolate. However, for many dogs, small amounts of milk chocolate are not harmful. When seeking dog care near me, it’s crucial to be aware of these distinctions in chocolate toxicity for the safety of your furry friend.
What Happens if a Dog Eats Chocolate?
It depends on your dog’s size and how much chocolate they’ve consumed. If you have a medium or large dog who consumes only a small amount of chocolate, then you may notice signs associated with an upset stomach, such as vomiting, and diarrhea. Other common clinical signs include increased thirst, panting or restlessness, extreme excitement, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. If your dog consumes a large amount of chocolate or if you have a small dog who consumes chocolate, then they may develop more severe symptoms such as muscle tremors, seizures, heart failure, internal bleeding, and additional complications. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take several hours to develop and continue for several days due to the dog’s inability to metabolize theobromine.
What Should I Do if My Dog Eats Chocolate?
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate or you see them eating chocolate, don’t wait to see if they develop any signs of toxicity. Call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680, these professionals will walk you through what to do. It is also helpful to keep or take a picture of the packaging to give to the vet and let them know when you think your dog ate the chocolate. Treatment often differs depending on how long the chocolate has been in the dog’s body. The sooner a dog is treated, the higher the likelihood they’ll recover without incident.
What Is the Treatment for Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs?
Treatment for chocolate toxicity depends on the amount and type of chocolate eaten and the dog’s clinical signs. If the chocolate has been consumed within the last hour, your vet may be able to induce vomiting to get the chocolate out of their system and avoid a hospital stay. This is another reason not to wait to call your veterinarian after your dog has eaten chocolate. Keep in mind that you should never try to induce vomiting at home without a vet’s supervision. If it has been more than a few hours or you don’t know when the chocolate was consumed, your vet may need to clear the toxic byproducts of the chocolate in your dog’s system by administering activated charcoal or giving them intravenous fluids through a catheter. If your dog isn’t showing signs of chocolate toxicity, this may be all the treatment they need. Severe chocolate toxicity can be fatal, so any dog experiencing the effects of chocolate poisoning will need to be hospitalized and continually monitored by veterinary personnel.
Remember, keep all chocolate out of reach of dogs. It can be fun to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with your pup, but you need to assess whether it works well for your pup. Chocolate, even in small amounts, is never a good treat for a dog. Seek medical attention by calling your veterinarian or a Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680 as soon as you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate.