Dogs and Chocolate: A Deadly Combination

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“Chocolate isn’t good for dogs”.

No matter how much your dog might want to share your treats, chocolate is one human treat that must never pass a dog’s lips – not even a lick. Why not? Because chocolate can not only make your dog very sick, it can kill him.

Chocolate (and cocoa) is one of the most significant and common causes of poisoning in dogs. Its severity depends on the type of chocolate consumed (darker is worse), how much has been consumed, and the size of your dog.

What Makes Chocolate Dangerous?

Chocolate’s toxic component where dogs are concerned is called theobromine. This is a stimulant that affects the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system. While humans can metabolise this easily, dogs do not, and it builds up to levels that are toxic very quickly in a dog’s body. A large dog can consume more than a small dog before ill effects show; a very small amount of chocolate will likely cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Large amounts can cause muscle tremors, hyperactivity, irregular heartbeat and palpitations, internal bleeding, and even heart attack.

Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate have the highest levels of theobromine; white chocolate has the lowest level.

Note too that chocolate can be harmful to other pets as well on occasion, including cats.

Help! My dog ate chocolate!!

Even if you only suspect your dog has eaten chocolate – even a choc-chip cookie can harm a smaller dog – take him to the vet straight away.

Signs of chocolate poisoning can take a number of hours to show up; these may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Extreme thirst
  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures

It can take up to three days for these effects to leave the body.

In many cases, a dog that has consumed chocolate will vomit of his own accord. The vet will make him do so in any case, ideally within two hours of ingestion. Treatment also includes IV fluids and drugs, as well as stomach pumping and flushing, and use of activated charcoal.

Caring for your dog includes dog grooming and walking – and keeping him safe. Even the tiniest amount of chocolate can be very dangerous to a dog – play it safe and keep Fido and chocolate well apart. And never, never use chocolate as a reward – no matter how much he begs.

Don’t allow dogs to nibble on:

  • Block chocolate
  • Chocolate milk
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Cakes with chocolate icing or glaze
  • Glazed doughnuts
  • Puddings
  • M&Ms
  • Candies
  • Chocolate sauce or topping
  • Chocolate Easter eggs

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