Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs
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Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But why is it that dogs can’t eat chocolate, and what should you do if your dog gets accidentally into your candy stash?
Chocolate is toxic to dogs, but why?
Chocolate contains a bitter, poisonous alkaloid called theobromine, which stimulates the body’s cardiovascular and nervous systems. In large concentrated doses, theobromine raises blood pressure and can cause heart palpitations, seizures, internal bleeding, and even heart failure.
Theobromine is also toxic to humans, but our bodies can quickly metabolize the small amount of theobromine present in chocolate, making it safe for us to consume. Dogs, on the other hand, take much longer to metabolize theobromine and are vulnerable to theobromine poisoning.
Chocolate can be toxic to other pets, too, but dogs, in particular, suffer from theobromine poisoning more often than other pets because they’re attracted to sweet foods and will seek them out. A dog’s keen sense of smell, 40 times stronger than our own, allows them to sniff out your stash even if you think you’ve hidden it well.
Which types of chocolate are the most dangerous for dogs?
The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content and the more dangerous it is for dogs to consume. Dark chocolate is ten times more toxic to dogs than milk chocolate. White chocolate, which is made from cocoa butter rather than cocoa powder, is less toxic than milk chocolate.
In order, ranked by theobromine content, from highest to lowest:
- Cocoa powder
- Baker’s chocolate (unsweetened)
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680
What are the symptoms of theobromine poisoning?
Your dog may eat chocolate without you knowing it, so it’s important that you know what signs to look out for. Early symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle tension
- Heart palpitations
Advanced signs of theobromine poisoning include weakness, coma, and cardiac arrest.
What to do if your dog has eaten chocolate
So, you’ve found some empty chocolate wrappers on the ground, and your dog is hiding in the bathroom with a guilty expression. What do you do now?
First, keep calm and don’t scold your dog. Your dog won’t be able to tell what you’re scolding him for unless you catch him in the act. Dogs also have a keen ability to pick up on your stress, and they can become stressed themselves if they sense that you’re upset.
The four things to consider are the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the dog’s weight and age. Small breeds of dog and older dogs are more vulnerable to theobromine poisoning than young dogs and medium to large-sized breeds. If your two-year-old mastiff has just eaten a single white chocolate chip, there’s no reason to panic. But if your ten-year-old Chihuahua has eaten a tablespoon of cocoa powder, you’ll need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you believe your dog has eaten an unsafe amount of chocolate or is showing symptoms of theobromine poisoning, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 or get in contact with a veterinarian. If your dog is limp or has gone into a coma, it’s imperative that you bring them to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
Remember to always keep chocolate out of your dog’s reach, but if your best friend does get into your stash, rest assured that theobromine poisoning is treatable. Keep a lookout for the symptoms, always act quickly if you notice something wrong, and your dog is sure to live a long and happy life.
“Chocolate Toxic to Dogs: What to Do if Yours Gets into Your Stash”
GUEST AUTHOR: Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves to write about women’s interests and the home niches. She lives in Arizona with her husband, three beautiful daughters and a spunky Jack Russell Terrier who makes life interesting.
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