A dog is called a man’s best friend. When you have a dog as a pet, you’d feel as if you have another person around you, just that you cannot have a two-way conversation with it (except you’re Dr. Dolittle). However, dogs are just the best and, as an owner, you definitely would want the best for them.
As much as you’d like to give your dog everything it wants, it is not advisable. Your dog may eat just about everything but one thing that is sure to put your dog down is chocolate. Don’t feed chocolates to your dog, no matter how its eyes beg you or how much it cuddles close to you.
A lot of people know that chocolate is not good for dogs but there are those who don’t know. Some have actively fed their dogs chocolates and learned the hard way. Others have had their dogs eat chocolate but noticed no extraordinary adverse effect so they may think chocolate does not affect all dogs. The fact is that dogs react negatively to chocolates all the time.
Why is this? Chocolates contain theobromine. It is a chemical which is great for the human body because it acts as a diuretic, which means that it makes you pee more, and as a stimulant for the heart. It also helps in widening your blood vessels, which can be good for those with high blood pressure. But when chocolates are ingested in large quantities, the presence of theobromine and even caffeine can affect a person adversely.
The bottom line here is that the human body breaks down the chemical theobromine quickly, bringing down the quantity of the chemical in the body into two within 6-10 hours. But in a dog, it could take up to 18 hours for it to be brought down to half the quantity so it stays longer in its body. Dogs generally take longer to break down theobromine.
Theobromine negatively affects a dog’s nervous system and its heart. If a dog ingests chocolate in large quantities, the theobromine in it could disorganize its movements, heartbeat and general coordination.
Now, you have to know that there are different types of chocolate, with varying levels of theobromine, and they affect dogs differently, depending on the amount which they ingest at a time:
- Dark chocolate
- White chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Baker’s chocolate
The one with the highest content of theobromine is cocoa and the one with the least content is white chocolate. Note that a moderate-sized dog may eat a little bit of white chocolate and have no reaction to it but there is no need for you to push it. Therefore, if you have a tiny dog, it may have a violent reaction to just a very small amount of cocoa and the very same amount may not deeply affect a larger dog. This is not a license to feed your Labrador chocolate, no matter how tiny it is.
Picture this: you have a pooch or even a Chihuahua. These are breeds of dogs which are tiny. It accidentally eats 50mg of white chocolate. Be prepared to take it to the closest vet around you. You see, it has been proven that 20mg per kg of body weight is the level at which it becomes dangerous to the health of a dog.
If a dog which easily weighs 35kg eats the same 50mg of white chocolate, there is a slim chance of it reacting negatively to it, even though you may want to take it to the vet to be doubly sure. Now, picture the same 35kg dog eating about 30mg of cocoa, in whatever form. That would be fatal for it because the content of theobromine in cocoa is much higher than that in white chocolate. Don’t even think about feeding cocoa or dark chocolate to your Chihuahua.
So, chocolate is not good for dogs but reaction to it depends on the weight of the dog, the type of the chocolate and the amount of it eaten.
What to expect if your dog eats chocolate
If your dog eats chocolate, there are different symptoms that you would begin to notice within a few hours or so, depending on the amount eaten and the size of the dog. Even if you were unaware of it, if these symptoms show up, you may have to check if your dog has eaten chocolate:
- Your dog would start vomiting: This may be the first sign to show up. As your dog’s system starts revolting against the presence of the chemical, it would naturally look for ways to get rid of it
- Then, diarrhea would come: This may occur at the same time as the vomiting. At this point, if the vomiting didn’t alarm you, this should propel you to seek medical help
- Your dog starts to have uncontrollable shaking: You would find that your dog has tremors which occur intermittently
- Restlessness sets in: If this should occur first, you may just assume that something else is wrong with your dog. However, it is a major part of the symptoms of chocolate consumption
- Increased heart rate: Normally, a dog’s heart beats fast but when there is something terribly wrong with it, it increases unduly
- Your dog begins to pee more than usual: And it may be unable to control it.
- Seizures set in
- Then, it would eventually drop dead if nothing is done quickly from the time the first symptom is noticed.
You know your dog better than anyone (ok, maybe not the vet). If any of these show up, even if it’s very minor, take your dog to the vet
What do you do when you dog eats some chocolate?
So, if your dog eats chocolate and you know for certain:
- You should call the vet. As has been mentioned above, the reaction would depend on the type of chocolate, the amount eaten and the size of the dog. Sometimes, the vet may want you to just stay at home and monitor your dog. Remember that the first adverse reaction may occur between 4-6 hours from the time of eating it. The earlier it is detected, the better
- You may have to induce vomiting in your dog by yourself to save time. Well, this would actually depend on the time when it was eaten and your ability to do it by yourself
- Other times, you may have to rush your dog to the emergency room of the vet clinic
- Apart from inducing vomiting, the vet may introduce intravenous fluids and drugs which will reverse poisonings
Prevention is better than cure
There are different measures you could implement to keep your dog from accidentally eating chocolates and some of them are:
Keep it hidden
Dogs are fond of nibbling at packages and sniffing at things. If your dog sniffs anything that seems edible, it may eat it. The best thing to do is to keep it hidden away from its reach.
Get it used to your commands
Let your dog be used to commands so that when you tell it to do something, it would obey promptly. You see, sometimes, you may not be close to keep chocolates away. Even if someone else were to give that command, it would obey. That way, you are covered, given any circumstance.