Do you know that chocolate is toxic to dogs? While many dog owners may not agree with us but it is true. Chocolate has a compound called theobromine that could be fatal if the dog has ingested a large amount of chocolate.
It is common knowledge that dogs love to eat pretty much everything that they could get hold of and this includes chocolate also. Many dog owners know that chocolate could be poisonous for their canines but still, there are many dogs that do eat chocolate and still manage to be fine.
How does this happen? The answer is simple; the level of toxicity depends on the dose of the chocolate. We are not saying that Coco could share a bit of chocolate from your chocolate bar but we are saying that some chocolates may have less amount of toxic substances.
Is it fine to give chocolate to Coco in a controlled amount? Get all your answers in the blog.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
‘What in chocolate is bad for dogs?’
Chocolate has components like caffeine and theobromine and both of them could speed up the heart rate and quicken the nervous system of your dog. This is why, when ingesting chocolate, many dogs exhibit signs of hyperactivity.
Both of the substances, caffeine, and theobromine, share the same structure and belong to methylxanthines, a group of chemicals. Something that makes them dangerous for dogs, cats, and other animals is their gradual absorptions and release in the bloodstream.
The maximum amount of caffeine released in the serum level of the dog is after 30 to 60 minutes and the dog disposes of about half of the caffeine in 4.5 hours. In the case of theobromine, it does not reach its peak levels even after 10 hours, and half of it is eliminated after 17.5 hours, which is a lot.
When in the bloodstream, methylxanthines interfere with the release of adenosine receptors that are responsible for sleep in dogs. By inhibiting it, they make the dogs feel hyperactive.
What Kind of Chocolate is Bad for Dogs?
The risk of a dog getting sick due to chocolate ingestion is based on the kind and amount of chocolate the dog has ingested. The dog’s body weight also plays a role in determining the amount of toxicity. The amount of theobromine also depends on the kind of chocolate that your dog may have eaten.
What type of chocolate is bad for dogs? Based on the concentration of theobromine substance, below are the kinds of chocolate that could be dangerous for dogs.
- Cocoa powder (most toxic)
- Unsweetened baker’s chocolate/cooking chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
Also avoid chocolates with nuts, because dogs can not eat nuts and some nuts are specifically hazardous for dogs. Below is a visual representation of the amount of theobromine in each type of chocolate.
Knowing the right amount and kind of chocolate that your dog has ingested will help you and the vet in administering the right kind of drug. However, make sure that you keep all your chocolate treats safely hidden to prevent any such accident.
Is the mulch made from cocoa bean shells safe for dogs?
No, while the mulch could be a blessing for your garden, it is not safe for your dog. Cocoa bean shells-based mulch has about 32 grams of theobromine, which is even higher than the unsweetened baker’s chocolate.
If you are sure that your dog would not eat the mulch then it is fine but in case you are not sure, it is better to stay with the traditional mulch.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning?
‘How will I know if my dog has ingested chocolate?’
Usually, the signs appear within 6 to 12 hours of your dog ingesting the chocolate but it could also take as much as 72 hours for your dog to show any signs.
Some common chocolate poisoning signs include;
- Disturbed stomach/Diarrhea
- Excessive urination
- Increased and abnormally high heart rate
- Possible death
Dogs having an existing heart condition and older dogs are more likely to face death from chocolate poisoning.So, if you see these symptoms in your emotional support animal or in your pet dog, you should immediately contact a vet.
Usually, some mild signs of chocolate toxicity may occur when your dog ingests about 20 mg of methylxanthines per kg of their bodyweight. Serious cardiac signs may be displayed when the dog has ingested around 40 to 50 mg of chocolate per kg of bodyweight.
The condition could be alarming if the dog has eaten more than 60 mg per kg of bodyweight amount of chocolate. If something like this happens, call the pet poison helpline or animal poison control to avoid any unlikely situation.
Since the harmful amount of chocolate for dogs depends on their body weight, this could vary for different dogs. An amount that is safe for a large dog could be lethal for a small dog.
What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Chocolate?
Call the veterinarian immediately! If you know or think that your dog ate chocolate then instead of waiting, it is better to either call the vet or take your dog to the clinic yourself. Also, make sure you only give vet recommended dog food to your Coco.
As per the weight of your dog and the amount of chocolate consumed by him, the doctor may suggest you monitor your dog’s symptoms. In case you notice any severe clinical signs, call the veterinarian before the signs worsen.
If you do not know about the amount of chocolate that your dog has ingested and is pregnant or has any other medical condition, take them to the vet right away. The dog may take up to two hours to show any signs of chocolate poisoning and administering IV fluids and anti-chocolate drugs will help in lessening the load.
To cure theobromine poisoning, the vet uses the gastric decontamination method to induce vomiting and empty the stomach if the ingestion is recent. Apomorphine, a drug, is given to the dog, through the eye, to ensure quick absorption.
Afterward, the doctor will give activated charcoal powder to bind the toxicity. The method is very effective if it is given immediately after the dog has eaten chocolate and is given by mixing it with wet food. Usually, a single dose works but sometimes, multiple doses may be needed.
Apart from this, the theobromine-poisoned dogs will be given specific medicines to manage specific symptoms like Diazepam for seizures, beta-blockers for elevated heart rate, and Atropine for lowered heart rate.
How to Prevent Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?
Though a small amount of chocolate may not cause serious harm to a large dog, it is suggested that you do not give chocolate to your dog EVER. Moreover, it is easier than handling the consequences.
Most dogs and puppies LOVE sweets, a principal reason why dogs more than 80% of the dogs come with chocolate poisoning each year. To prevent it, below are some easy ways.
- Put the Chocolates Away - probably the simplest and easiest of the ways to avoid chocolate poisoning. Store your cooking chocolate, drinking chocolate, cocoa powder, and other chocolate items locked away and somewhere where your dog could not reach them.
- Teach ‘Leave it’ Command - the command is quite effective in preventing chocolate ingestion in dogs. Do not allow your dog to eat anything that falls on the ground.
- Give Crate Training - the safest way of making sure that your dog is safe when you are not around is to train him to stay inside the crate. Make it a fun and safe haven for your dog and do not use it as a punishment.
- Tell Your Kids about It - tell your kids about the dangers of chocolate for dogs. Explain to them why it is not OK to give their favorite chocolate treat to Coco.
Get a good quality dog crate and carrier that you can use to keep your dog safe at home. Keep some dog toys, good quality or homemade dog treats, and a snuffle mat to keep your dog happy and comfortable.
Keeping your dog safe is the process of living with your emotional support dog. These dogs are different from pet dogs and you will need to qualify to get one.
Fill the online assessment questionnaire and get a valid ESA letter, if you qualify.