The Chocolate Truth

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Dear Barkley,

My owners have a distinct love for chocolate. Every single day, I see them having it in one form or another. Chocolate Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, chocolate milk, some Cadbury chocolate for an afternoon snack or even a cake, layered thick and heavy with chocolate frosting that would make Dorie Greenspan drool a bit. Suffice to say, there is no short supply of that wonderfully sinful confection in the house.

Yet, the last time my owner was cooking, he happenedto spill some on the floor during the process of preparing a cake. Being my normal, exuberant self I opted it was the best possible opportunity to finally get to try some. Well, my owner had other ideas and tackled me before pushing me away and cleaning it up quickly.

What gives? Why couldn’t I have some chocolate and get to see what the big deal was about?

Confused as Ever,
Chocolate Lab in Chicago

Dear Chocolate,

I’ve heard fabled whispers of my owners as well discussing the mythically delicious sweetness of the forbidden sugary stuff, but alas, I too have been shushed away from sampling it as well. Though it isn’t without good reason.

Chocolate, whether milk, white, dark, or cocoa, all have a stimulant in it called theobromine. It’s sort of similar to the caffeine you’d find in your master’s coffee, with the strong distinction of course being that is viciously poisonous to us canines. Literal death by chocolate.

So, it isn’t without good reason that your owner has demonstrated such gratuitous concern for you in this case, even if it was somewhat haphazard. He’s only taking your best interests to heart because he wants to see you make it to a ripe old age.

After all, according to Vets Now, the symptoms for consuming chocolate alone should be discouragement enough:

Vomiting (may include blood)
Diarrhea
Restlessness and hyperactivity
Rapid breathing
Muscle tension, incoordination
Increased heart rate
Seizures

Sounds terrible, right? And all it takes is 100-150 milligrams to prove severe, but your body weight obviously plays a factor. Keep in mind, if your owner would have seen you lapping up any amount of the chocolate, they most likely would’ve erred on the side of caution and gotten you to the people in the white lab coats and scrubs as soon as possible. Probably would’ve ruined your day pretty quick.

Regardless of whether or not you end up at the vet, you’ll most likely be persuaded one way or another to get the chocolate up and out of your stomach as fast as possible. It isn’t going to be pretty in the least. If you end up at the vet, which is worse than obedience school, they’ll need to know how much chocolate you got into and when. But, besides vomiting, you’ll probably get a heaping helping of activated charcoal to try and absorb as much of the theobromine out of your system as possible.

Beyond that, it’ll be about as fun as an evening in the Crate of Shame. An IV for intravenous fluids and medication to control any possible heart rate, blood pressure or seizure complications. But hopefully, after reading this, there won’t be a chance it would ever come to that, right?

Stay chocolatey, my labrador friend,
Barkley

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