Many times dogs will be brought into the veterinarian and owners will cry “But when ever we gave him chocolate in the past he never had problems“. As a concerned dog owner you need to avoid being one of those people.
The ingredient in chocolate that causes the problems for dogs is theobromine it comes from cocoa. Different types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine; with cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and unsweetened bakers chocolate, having higher amounts than some chocolate candies and milk chocolate. The risk factor for dogs is high because most have a sweet tooth and enjoy snacks. Dogs have good noses and will track down food they want, and will help themselves to it. Dogs often eat things they should not.
Theobromine is not just a problem for dogs. Cats are even more sensitive to theobromine, but less likely to eat it.
Caffeine is also present in chocolate and can be fatal to dogs as well, but is not the main concern in chocolate specifically.
Macadamia Nuts in chocolate are also toxic for dogs.
A dog might be fed a chocolate here or there with no problems, but if they eat a whole box, or happen to eat a type of chocolate with a lot of theobromine, there could be problems, even fatal ones.
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How Much Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs
Remember that it is not specifically how much chocolate; but rather how much theobromine the chocolate contains. With that in mind, according to Merrick Veterinary Manual; .5oz (11 gram) of bakers chocolate would be enough to cause serious problems for a 22 pound (9 kg) dog.
Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms may take several hours to appear and may even still occur 3 days after eating chocolate.
- Increased Urination
- Heart Attacks
What to Do if you Suspect your Dog Ate Chocolate
Call your veterinarian. If it has been less than 2 hours since the dog ate chocolate you may be advised to induce vomiting, and to bring the dog to the veterinarian. After 2 hours take the dog to the veterinarian straight away. Note that veterinarians do have after hours emergency services – this is not a “wait and see” thing – note how much chocolate your dog ate, and call the vet!
To induce vomiting in a dog you should give the dog 3 percent hydrogen peroxide at the rate of 1.5 cc per 10 pounds (4.5kgs) of dog. The dog should vomit within 10 minutes.
Getting the dog to the veterinarian immediately is also important and should not be delayed.
Safer Alternatives to Chocolate
To be safe, dogs should not be given any kind of chocolate, however they can have carob which tastes a lot like chocolate and is safe for them. Some dog owners who like chocolate have switched to eating carob to satisfy their sweet tooth rather than having chocolate where their dog might find it.
Peanut butter is also a good, safe alternative to chocolate.
Please share this with your dog owning friends who many not be aware of the risks.
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