Dogs generally don’t know what is good for them or what is bad for them. This is particularly true when it comes to something that smells sweet or scrumptious to her. Dogs love the sweet taste of chocolate as much as us people do, but unfortunately for them, chocolate is poisonous to dogs.
In this article, we’ll go over why chocolate is bad for dogs and what to do if your dog does eat chocolate
What Makes Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
The reason chocolate is so dangerous for dogs is that it contains an alkaloid chemical known as theobromine. Theobromine is found primarily in cocoa plants however lesser amount can be found in tea leaves and the cola nut.
Unlike humans, dogs are unable to metabolize theobromine. It mainly affects a dog’s heart, kidneys, intestines and central nervous system.
Chocolate also contains caffeine, which raises your dog’s blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias. Caffeine may also cause vomiting or cause loss of muscle control, seizures or tremors.
How Much Chocolate is Too Much?
The larger the dog, the more chocolate she will be able to tolerate. Even the smallest amount of chocolate can potentially be fatal for a small dog.
Milk chocolate is more tolerable, as the amount of cocoa bean present in it is less than in dark chocolate, however any ingestion of half an ounce per body weight could put your dog at risk for poisoning.
Dark or semi-sweet chocolate is much more harmful, and more than 0.13 ounces per pound may cause poisoning. Any ingestion of baker’s chocolate can cause poisoning and should be considered an emergency.
Dogs with underlying health conditions or those that are very young or very old are more at risk for complications.
What Are the Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning?
Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs typically appear within six to twelve hours after ingestion and may last up to seventy-two hours. Symptoms include:
- Vomiting – this symptom is actually a good one in the case of chocolate toxicity as it helps rid your dog’s body of the toxins.
- Increased urination
- Elevated or abnormal heart rate
Even if your dog is showing no symptoms of chocolate poisoning, it is important to call your veterinarian to see if they have any advice or recommendations.
How is Chocolate Poisoning Diagnosed?
Because time is of the essence, your veterinarian will make the diagnosis of chocolate poisoning based on the history of exposure, as well as any clinical signs present.
What is the Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?
There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning. Your vet will first attempt to stabilize your dog and attempt to control any symptoms she presents with.
Depending on how long it has been since your dog ate the chocolate, your vet may attempt to induce vomiting by giving your dog a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution or activated charcoal.
Intravenous fluids will be given, and your vet may administer other specific treatments to control heart rate irregularities, diarrhoea and vomiting.
If you catch your dog eating chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately. They may suggest that you attempt to induce vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide but only do this upon your vet’s instruction. Your vet will advise the following:
- Feed your dog a small meal. Having something in her belly will make it easier to induce vomiting and will absorb some of the toxins before vomiting.
- Give your dog 3% hydrogen peroxide, one to two teaspoons for every ten pounds of weight. You can squirt this solution to the back of your dog’s tongue using a turkey baster, eye dropper or needless syringe. The taste and foam with prompt vomiting within five to ten minutes after administration. If this does not work the first time, it can be repeated one more time but do not give more than two doses or it may cause uncontrollable vomiting which will put your dog at risk.
- Do not give your dog salt, as it can lead to sodium poisoning.
- Call your vet again and ask for more instructions after she has vomited. If you haven’t gotten her to vomit, you should get her to the vet immediately.
Inducing vomiting can be dangerous in a lethargic or ill pet, as there is a great risk of aspiration.
What is the Prognosis for Chocolate Poisoning?
Recovery from chocolate toxicity largely depends upon how much and what type or chocolate was consumed, if your dog is very young, old or has underlying health conditions, and how quickly treatment was started.
The most successful recovery happens when treatment is given within two hours of ingestion. Your dog must be carefully monitored until her symptoms subside, which may take up to seventy-two hours.
The ASPCA Poison Control estimates twenty-five percent of dogs with chocolate poisoning recover within two days, however even with treatment, one in one hundred dogs with chocolate poisoning never recover.
How Do You Prevent Your Dog from Eating Chocolate?
The simplest way to prevent chocolate toxicity is to keep it out of your dog’s reach. Crate train your dog so she doesn’t have access to any foods left out when you’re not around.
Talk with members of your house, including children, about the importance of keeping chocolate away from your dog and never allow her to have even the smallest amount of it.
You are responsible for your pet’s safety and health. Be extra vigilant when it comes to any foods that may be potentially deadly to them, and always call your vet immediately if you suspect she has ingested anything abnormal.