With Halloween having passed and the holidays just around the corner, your pantry might be stocked with more sweets than usual.
But while these treats are our little guilty pleasures, sweets, specifically chocolate, can be severely harmful or even fatal to your furbaby! In fact, Animal Poison Control Center’s helpline reported handling 76 cases of “chocolate exposure” a day in 2020, with the sweet treat ranking fourth among their latest list of top pet toxins.
As a dog owner, it’s important that you not only familiarize yourself with food that’s toxic to your pet, but also know what to do should they accidentally ingest some. Read on to learn what you need to know and do first when your dog eats chocolate!
Know the telltale signs
With our dogs roaming freely around the house and us doing our own thing, it can be difficult to keep an eye on them all the time. If your dog sneaks a few bites of chocolate out of sight, it’s important to know the visible signs of chocolate toxicity.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Jennifer Coates enumerates the following symptoms to watch out for: vomiting, diarrhea, excitability, tremors, a high heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures.
Like humans, reaction to food can vary between dogs. This is why it’s important to make it a habit to check in on yours every once in a while throughout the day, especially if they’re allowed out of their cage!
Talk to your vet
If you’re worried that your dog consumed toxic amounts of chocolate, call up your trusted vet immediately. Especially when it comes to your dog’s health, it’s always best to act sooner than later and to consult a professional!
The toxicity of chocolate is attributed to stimulants called methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine. According to Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Angie Krause, “mild toxicity is seen at 9 mg of theobromine per pound of dog, and severe toxicity is seen at 18 mg theobromine per pound of dog.” She also adds that caffeine in chocolate is approximately 10% of its theobromine content.
A good rule to remember is that the darker and more bitter the chocolate is, the higher its theobromine and caffeine content. To help you assess the situation, it’s helpful to know the information about the theobromine content of specific kinds of chocolate:
- Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate: 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce
- Common milk chocolate: 44-58 mg of theobromine per ounce
- White chocolate: 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce
Overall, chocolate toxicity is determined by a number of variables such as the type and amount of chocolate ingested, and your dog’s weight. It’s best to gather all of this information before your trip to the vet, to help them determine the best course of action!
Finding out that your dog did or ate something it wasn’t supposed to can be scary, even for long-time pet owners! It’s in cases like these that knowledge truly is power. Knowing exactly what to do when these types of situations arise can be the very thing that saves your furbaby’s life!