Dogs and chocolate can be a fatal mix. Most dog owners always share finger meals they are eating with their pets. This is very true in the case of chocolate which is a snack most people love. Although sharing food with your dog is a sign of love for them, chocolate has life threatening effects on your dog. Chocolate toxicity in dogs is a serious issue, but some dog owners are not aware of the effects of it. Chocolate ingestion by canines can result to death and so dog owners should know about this in detail and what to do if dog eats chocolate.
Although the occasional chocolate chip in a cookie may be nothing to worry about, certain chocolate varieties can be really toxic. The darker and chocolates that are less sweet are more harmful to your dog. The worst kind of chocolate that your dog can ever eat is baking or dark chocolates.
Can a dog really die from eating chocolate?
There are some people who ridicule and say that their dog ate chocolate and actually loved it and did not suffer any negative side effects. While there are some dogs that are able to withstand and even digest some small pieces of milk chocolate, some other dogs cannot. A dog should not consume any amount of chocolate as chances are the dog will get seriously sick after eating the chocolate. However, how chocolate affects your dog depends on so many other elements. Some of them are:
• Health of the dog
• Amount of chocolate eaten
• Age of the dog
• The type of chocolate eaten
• Size/weight of the dog
Why is chocolate poisonous for dogs?
Chocolate contains two harmful substances that can wreak havoc in the digestion system of a dog. All chocolate contains this substance in different levels depending on the type.
Caffeine interferes with the nervous system and increases the dog’s heart rate which can eventually result to death.
It is also called xantheose. This is bitter alkaloid that can be found in coffee, chocolate, guarana and tea. Animals especially dogs metabolize theobromine at a lower rate and this gives it time to affect their organs. It especially has fatal effects on the central nervous system and the heart of a dog, which may result to epileptic seizures and in severe cases death of the canine. When it comes to dogs and chocolate, it is important to always remember that dark = deadly! The darker the chocolate is, the more the amount of theobromine it contains. Therefore, bakers chocolate, gourment dark chocolates, cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate are more harmful than milk chocolate. White chocolate contains very minimal amounts of theobromine and will not poison your dog.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning
If you suspect that your dog has eaten any form of chocolate, it is important that you rush him to your vet. The symptoms show up within an hour and continue to get worse as the dog digests and metabolizes the piece of chocolate eaten. If your dog eats chocolates, they may show the following symptoms.
• Fast heart rate
• Frequent urination
• Slow heart rate
• Muscle tremors
What to do if dog eats chocolate
Since chocolate ingestion in dogs is a fatal problem, knowing the best way to deal with the situation is very important. Here are several ways you can deal with the situation.
If your dog has just consumed chocolate, vomiting is one of the best ways to get him to remove some chocolate which will reduce the rate of absorption of the dangerous toxins in chocolate. To get the dog to vomit, you can give your dog ipecac syrup. The dosage will depend on the weight of your dog but one dose of a quarter teaspoon is enough to induce vomiting. You can also mix a teaspoonful of hydrogen peroxide with water and some vanilla ice cream. Get your dog moving by walking him/her for some minutes. If after 15 minutes the hydrogen peroxide has not helped in inducing vomiting, then give your dog another dose of the same. This should help in inducing vomiting. If still after 30 minutes your dog has not vomited, do not give him another peroxide dose as too much of it can harm the dog. Allow the dog to eat grass. Naturally, if a dog eats something that affects their digestion system, they often eat grass as it helps them to vomit.
Of course you will not have to give your dog any of the remedies if they start vomiting on their own. In that scenario, you will just keep an eye on your dog and monitor for any severe cases of poison. If the dog does not return to its normal self after the vomiting, then it’s time to take the dog to the vet.
Give activated charcoal
Vomiting helps in eliminating theobromine from your dog’s stomach, but chances are that the chemical has already got into the blood stream of your dog if it has stayed in the tummy for long. After the dog has vomited, you can give them activated charcoal. The charcoal combines with the theobromine so that it can easily pass through the system.
Follow the directions in the package so that the dog can swallow the mix without straining. Dogs which are small should be given a one teaspoon dose while larger dogs (25 pounds and more) should be given a two teaspoon dosage. However, activated charcoal should never be administered on a dog that is unconscious.
Dilute the chocolate
If you have tried all methods and your dog has not yet vomited, then try getting them what they love eating so that you can dilute the chocolate. Boiled milk is the most suitable food to give them.
Seek vet services
It is important that you seek the services of a vet as fast as you can to save the life of your dog. If you are not able to afford veterinary fees, you could use veterinary charities such as PDSA if there are any in your area. If they are not available, you could try looking for vets in your area that have an offer or give discounted rates for such cases. If there are no cheaper or discounted rates in your area than most other vet doctors, then just take your dog to your regular vet. A lot of vets will not turn a dog away simply because the owner is unable to pay for their treatment. You will often work out a deal in which you both will agree on a suitable mode of payment.
Can your dog die out of eating chocolate? Yes they can, but it does not have to always turn out like that. Swift action and careful observation can help your dog survive such an experience just fine.