Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
No matter how much you love chocolate, it can kill your dog. Remember how you like sharing food stuff with your dog, giving it treats and all? Well, don’t do that with chocolate. However little you think it is, absolutely no amount of chocolate is good for any canine. In fact, chocolate is one of the leading causes of dog poisoning. And when dogs taste some choc, they want more. And that’s more trouble. What makes it so bad?
Understanding Chocolate Poisoning
Here’s a quick Chemistry 101: Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid. It’s a stimulant like caffeine. They even belong to the same family of mythylxanines. The theobromine stimulates the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and increases the blood pressure. The problem comes in because dogs cannot metabolize the theobromine as fast as humans. For you, that buzz you get from eating chocolate lasts for like half an hour. For dogs, half of the theobromine ingested can still be in its system after over 17 hours. So its effects are amplified.
Then you’ll get to see these symptoms:
· increased urination
· muscle twitching
· hyperactive behavior
· excessive panting
· digestive problems
· increased heart rate
Some of these symptoms are out right fatal to your dog.
How much is too much?
Several factors determine the severity of the effects of the chocolate, but it all boils down to the size, weight, and activeness of the dog, and the amount and type of chocolate ingested.
For milk chocolate, you’ll see mild signs when 0.7 ounces of chocolate per pound of body weight is ingested. Cross 2 ounces per pound of body weight and you’re in for severe toxicity. Baking chocolate is worse. It contains the highest concentration of both caffeine and theobromine. 0.1 ounce per body weight is lethal to a dog. That means your 20-pound canine can be taken down by two small 1 ounce squares of baking chocolate.
What to do when your dog eats chocolate
Call your local pet poison helpline. See a vet. This is especially if you’re in doubt if a harmful quantity was ingested. The vet may want to induce some vomiting as long as your dog isn’t’ showing symptoms yet. If a toxic amount was ingested, a thorough examination will be in the calling. Simply, the sooner the theobromine is removed from your dog’s system, the better it is.
You can induce vomiting at home. The easiest and cheapest way would be to stick your finger down their throat. However, that is not recommended, for obvious reasons. Another easy way is to get the dog to eat some 1-2 tsp of hydrogen peroxide. It will shortly induce vomiting, and can be repeated after every quarter hour. Alternatively, you can use 2-3 tsp of Syrup of Ipecac. However, even if it does not work, for this one do not give another dose.
Activated charcoal can also be administered after every 4-6 hours for the first 24 hours in order to reduce the continued reabsorption and recirculation of the theobromine.
Once you’re over the ordeal, remember to keep all kinds of chocolate away from the dog.