What happens when dogs eat chocolate (is it really that toxic)?
We've had many people ask us if chocolate is really that toxic for dogs. Isn't there a little bit of wiggle room? The blatant answer is that chocolate should NEVER be consumed by dogs, no matter what! Not even on special occasions like their birthday or on Easter.
Your rebuttal may be that your dog once got into a box of chocolates and he turned out just fine. Or perhaps you might argue that you've let your dog have a couple of licks of chocolate sauce from your plate, and the worst that happened was a few smelly farts. The reality is that small amounts of chocolate may just give your dog an upset stomach, but how much is too much? Is it really worth risking your dog's life? Yes - the consequences can be that serious!
Why chocolate is bad for dogs
Chocolate is toxic for dogs as it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as other unhealthy ingredients such as fat, caffeine and sugar. While fat, caffeine and sugar are just generally unhealthy for dogs, it's theobromine that makes chocolate a hard no-no for our canine companions. To put it simply, theobromine is poisonous when ingested by dogs. Darker chocolate tends to have higher levels of theobromine, but it's also found in white chocolate!
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid found in the cacao plant. Dogs are unable to metabolise theobromine like us humans can. So, when a dog ingests chocolate, the theobromine cannot be processed by their system, and in turn damages their gut, heart, central nervous system and kidneys.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs
If your dog is lucky, they may not be visibly affected by consuming small amounts of chocolate. This does NOT mean that theobromine has not had an effect on their system. If they have consumed enough chocolate to experience toxicity, symptoms can start taking place between 4 - 24 hours after consumption. Remember, even a small amount of chocolate can be dangerous for your dog, depending on their weight and how much they eat.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs:
- Muscle tremors
- Irregular heart beat
- Heart failure
- Internal bleeding
What to do if your dog accidentally consumes chocolate
It's best to overreact. If your dog got his or her paws on some chocolate, please seek urgent treatment. Contact your vet or pet emergency clinic as soon as possible. If you can, take the chocolate packaging with to help your vet know how to best treat your dog for chocolate poisoning.
Depending on the severity of toxicity, the vet will usually induce vomiting and may wash out your dog's stomach. A common practice is to feed the affected dog activated charcoal which absorbs theobromine left in the stomach. In more severe cases, the vet may have to put the dog on a drip and administer medication to stabilise the dog's heart rate and seizure activity. The earlier your dog receives medical attention, the better the outcome, in most cases.
Spoil your dog WITHOUT chocolate
All good pet parents want to spoil and love their fur kids! It can be terribly difficult to resist those furry faces staring up at us, just pleading for a taste of whatever we're eating. Many pet parents don't realise that giving in to those pleas could have fatal consequences, or cause long-term complications.
Why not stock up on some healthy, additive-free pet snacks, treats and biscuits! With this selection of organic and yummy pet treats, you can spoil your dog or cat, guilt-free! Yay!