With Halloween right around the corner, kids will soon have their buckets filled with candy and chocolate! As a pet owner, one needs to be cautious of the dangers associated with these tasty treats, particularly chocolate. We’ve all heard that chocolate can kill your dog… but do we really know the reason why? What makes chocolate poisonous to our furry loved ones? Which types are more harmful than others? What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning and more importantly… what steps should be taken if ingested? Keep reading to find out!
What makes chocolate poisonous?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which contains a chemical compound called theobromine. Theobromine is the real threat to our pets. Dogs metabolize the compound much more slowly than humans, allowing it to build up toxicity levels in their system.
Additionally, different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate, and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk and white chocolate have the lowest. The high level of theobromine in a cocoa product means that it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Therefore, if you have any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, please be cautious when it is used around pets. Dogs also have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy to find any secret hiding spots for tasty treats.
Symptoms generally appear within four to twenty-four hours of your dog having eaten the chocolate.
Early symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, increased urination and restlessness
Later symptoms: lack of coordination, muscle twitching, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and ultimately death
What to do if your pet has ingested chocolate:
If you’ve noticed your pet is showing the above symptoms, the faster you get it to the vet, the better. There is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning, but the vet may advise inducing vomiting to prevent as much theobromine from entering the system as possible.
NOTE: A single piece of chocolate does not contain a large enough theobromine dosage to harm your dog; however, if you have a small dog that has eaten a box of chocolates, it is best to get it to the vet ASAP. A large dog can consume more chocolate than a small dog before suffering ill effects. Monitor your dog for signs and call your vet if you are unsure; when it’s your dog’s life, better safe than sorry!