Many people love chocolate, but this tasty treat isn’t one you should share with your dog. Chocolate is very toxic to dogs and can easily make them sick. Even though chocolate is not good for them, dogs are very likely to eat it if they encounter it. Unfortunately, this can have deadly consequences. If dog owners learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of chocolate toxicity in their pets, treatment can be started quickly and recovery is quicker.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
Chocolate is manufactured from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao plant. The dangerous ingredients in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. Although non-toxic for humans, these compounds can be very harmful to pets.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
Early signs of chocolate toxicity include panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Affected dogs can develop muscle twitching and even seizures. It is important to note that severity of symptoms will vary depending upon which type of chocolate (and how much) a dog ingests.
You’ll find 40-50mg of theobromine per oz in milk chocolate. Baking chocolate is much more dangerous with almost 400mg of theobromine per oz. Mild signs of poisoning occur if a dog eats 9mg of theobromine per pound of body weight, and severe symptoms are seen with a dose rate of 18mg per pound. If you do the mathematics, you’ll notice that a 20lb dog can become seriously ill if they eat as little as 1 ounce of baking chocolate!
If you’ve seen your dog eat chocolate or noticed the empty wrappers on the floor, take your dog to your vet straight away.
Treating Chocolate Toxicity
Your veterinarians first step in treating chocolate poisoning will be to make your dog vomit. Most veterinarians will then give the dog activated charcoal by mouth. These steps prevent any further absorption of theobromine into their system. There is no specific antidote to chocolate toxicity so further treatment is symptomatic. It can include fluid therapy to support your dog as they metabolize and excrete the toxic compounds and anti-seizure medication if necessary. If their heart rate is too fast, drugs can be given to slow it back to a more normal rate.
Dog owners can do well to remember that the best treatment for chocolate toxicity is to avoid it in the first place. This is one tasty treat that you should keep all to yourself. Although chocolate often looks and smells delicious to dogs, it is a good idea to keep it well out of their reach. This will make sure your canine companion doesn’t suffer from the serious but preventable symptoms of poisoning.