Valentines Day Chocolate – Dangerous for Dogs

I invited my friend Jemima to do an article for me on the effects that eating Chocolate can have on dogs.  Here’s what she says …

You never would have thought chocolate could be a dangerous poison to dogs, but it is!  This is unfortunate because dogs just love chocolate, no more so than my black and tan cavalier Florence who would do anything to try and get some!

Black and Tan Cavalier

We all enjoy our chocolate nibbles and bars and when eating it have nothing more to worry about that our expanding waist lines, however if our dogs get hold of our chocolate it can be a very different problem and can be very serious if not life threatening, and here is why;

The coco bean which chocolate comes from contains a drug called theobromine. This is closely related to caffeine, which chocolate also contains, and it is the theobromine that is toxic to dogs.  Different chocolate types contain different levels of the theobromine:

1. Cocoa beans (30mg/gm chocolate)
2. Cocoa powder (20mgs/gm chocolate)
3. Dark chocolate (15mgs/gm chocolate)
4. Milk chocolate (2mgs/gm chocolate)
5. Drinking chocolate (0.5mgs/gm chocolate)

Signs to look for if you think your dog may have eaten some chocolate include vomiting and diarrhoeaand they are generally hyperactive, panting, have increased blood pressure and increased heart rates.  This then moves on to tremors, twitches, seizures and possibly death where large amounts of chocolate have been swallowed.  Dehydration may also occur.

If you do think that your dog may have eaten some chocolate it is always best to get the vets advice as the severity can depend largely on the size of the dog and the amount it has eaten.

There is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning, treatment is symptomatic this may include support such as intravenous drips, charcoal orally (to aid digestion and bind the toxins together), and medications to help control vomiting, sedatives and drugs to control seizures if it has got that far.

If your dog has just eaten significant amounts of chocolate within the last hour it would be a good idea to make it sick (again your vet is the best person to do this as gone are the days of using washing soda to make dogs sick, they now have IV injections that do the job far less stress for both of you)  It is far better being safe than sorry and most pets treated for chocolate toxicity recover and return to normal within a couple of days.  You should always be aware of where you leave chocolate and where your dog can pinch it from!  A large number of cases of chocolate poisioning are seen at Easter due to easter eggs lying around and also Christmas when people have put chocolate decorations on their trees as well as Valentines Day.  Dogs will eat them, along with the wrappers, and then there’s another problem added to the situation – can they pass the wrappers? – however I have heard of clever dogs who actually unwrap chocolate before eating it!

My old boss’ labrador pinched an 80% cocoa cooking chocolate bar off the side and ate it! (I do believe this dog has 9 lives).  Only when Molly started to act strangley and became rather hyperactive did they see what had happened by this point however sadly it was too late to make her sick and so as the saying goes they had to “ride the storm”.  She was placed on a drip as she was vomiting and monitored closely.  Her heart rate was becoming very, very erratic.  She was fitting, and so was sedated, and still her heart rate increased.  They were lucky enough to be able to get some human heart treatment from the hospital to bring her heart rate down and stablise her and so get her heart rate slowly back to normal.  The next day Molly had improved greatly but then the diarrhoea started (well what goes in must come out) she was kept on the drip and blood tests were done to ensure no other damage to organs had been done.  Molly was extremely lucky, and like I say, then went on to pinch more things!

If your dog has a taste for chocolate, give them doggy chocolate – this has no theobromine in and so they can enjoy it without any worry!

Enjoy Valentine’s Day, but make sure your dogs enjoy it too!

Thanks Jemima

…  Anne