If your dog ate chocolate, you probably know it can be toxic to dogs. There are several things to consider when your dog has just picked up one of your favorite chocolate bars and certain types of chocolate are worse than others. While Dogs eat a lot of things they shouldn’t eat. Chocolate is one of them, which can be potentially serious.
If you know exactly what to do to reduce the impact, you need to be sure that you are well prepared for emergencies. This guide is designed to ensure that you know which chocolate is bad, how much of it is bad, and what to do next if your dog has decided to eat. Let’s jump in
Why eating chocolate is a problem
Chocolate is always gratefully received in your veterinary practice, unfortunately, less if it is already in your dog’s stomach. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic when consumed by dogs. It has adverse effects on the central nervous system (brain) as well as on the Heart and respiratory system. All of this is very important to get a happy and healthy dog!
It has been reported that approximately 1 in 4 cases of toxic ingestion or poisoning in dogs that require veterinary care involve chocolate. Certain seasons appear to be at higher risk. In the months around Christmas and Easter, there are more cases of toxicity with chocolate when there are more chocolate goodies lying around that dogs have access to. Halloween is another common season for dogs with chocolate poisoning.
There are many others Foods that are usually eaten at home that are actually toxic to dogs, such as dried fruits, grapes, onions, and alcohol. It is very rare for any of these foods to be given to pets to harm or make them ill. Most of the time, the dogs helped themselves or were fed as “treats” without their owners noticing the damage these foods could do. The aim of this article is to help you understand why your dog should not eat chocolate, what risks there are and what to do and what to expect when it is eaten.
Theobromine in chocolate
Theobromine is a chemical called alkaloid that belongs to the same group of substances like caffeine. Both substances are found in chocolate and are toxic to dogs. Theobromine is found in the Cocoa plant – from which cocoa and chocolate are made. It tastes bitter But when mixed with sugar and other ingredients to make chocolate, it tastes very appetizing (I’m sure many of us agree!).
Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine or caffeine as well as humans. When eaten by dogs, it leads to improper processing of calcium in their body, as well as some other effects. Calcium is an essential part of the correct contraction and movement of all muscles in the body. including the heart muscle.
Because of this calcium dysregulation, both theobromine and caffeine have stimulating effects on the heart muscle, but they also cause dilation of the blood vessels, relaxation of smooth muscles in the body (like the lining of the intestine), and diuretic effects (which leads to increased urination) and possible dehydration). This is one of the reasons why after a strong coffee or a lot of chocolate we can feel a little nervous or get a caffeine high!
All side effects depend on the type of chocolate that was eaten when it was eaten, the size of the dog, and what happened afterward. The effects can range from mild to very severe and ultimately, in the worst (luckily rare) case, death. In cases where death occurs from chocolate poisoning, dogs usually already have health problems such as heart disease.
Dark, milk, or white chocolate?
The theobromine content in different types of chocolate is very different – with the highest amounts in dark chocolate and baking cocoa powder and the lowest amounts in white chocolate.
To give you a clearer idea, the theobromine content in milligrams (mg) per gram (g) of chocolate is approximate:
- White chocolate: 0.009 mg / g
- Milk chocolate: 2 mg / g
- Dark chocolate: up to 16 mg / g
The worst culprits in your kitchen are cocoa powder, which can contain up to 26 mg / g. The specified lethal dose of theobromine in dogs (i.e. the dose that can kill a dog and not just make it sick) is anywhere from 90 to 250 mg/kg. This means that a 30 kg bulldog eating a 200 g bar or box of dark chocolate eats 106 mg/kg and could possibly die from it. Anything above 12 mg/kg can cause symptoms associated with the toxin.
What happens to my dog
The symptoms depend on the A lot of chocolate eaten (and the size of the dog!). The most commonly observed side effects are: vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, more drinking and urination, restlessness, hyperactivity, and a high heart rate. Neither is particularly pleasant, but in mild cases, they are not life-threatening.
In severe cases, this can cause blood in your dog’s urine or vomiting, difficulty breathing and low blood oxygen levels (seen as a purple or blue glow in the gums or tongue color), hyperthermia (high body temperature), and muscle tremors or cramps, an irregular heart rhythm (or Heart failure) and occasionally sudden kidney failure or death.
There are other ingredients in chocolate that cause high levels of fat and sugar, which in itself can lead to stomach upset and, in some more severe cases, pancreatitis. This can be very serious in some dogs, especially those that tend to be older or older. If there is a chance that your dog also ate packaging (This can be packaging, cardboard, or plastic) or if the chocolates contain whole nuts, there is little risk of them causing a physical blockage in your pet’s gut. It is really important to watch for signs of this.
Can problems be dealt with?
Milder signs like Vomiting and diarrhea are often treated symptomatically with a mild diet and occasionally medication by your veterinarian. There is a risk of dehydration due to loss of fluid (from vomiting and diarrhea). It is therefore important to avoid this. If your dog normally consumes dry food (cookies), it may be advisable to add some water or to encourage him to drink water flavored with a small boiled chicken
We never advise dogs with vomiting or diarrhea to withhold food. Instead, feed mild, moist foods in small, frequent amounts. Your veterinarian can offer you a mild diet designed specifically for dogs with an upset stomach.
In more severe cases, animals Hospitalization may be required, intravenous fluids (drops), medication, blood tests, heart monitors, and other intensive care. Dogs with underlying conditions such as heart disease, a history of pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas), or other problems may need more care and be less likely to have a positive result.
Treatment costs can quickly increase, and this includes both financial and emotional costs for everyone involved. Prevention is always better than cure.
My dog ate white chocolate: what now?
While white chocolate may not have a high enough theobromine content to be a toxic problem, sugar and fat levels can still cause problems such as gastroenteritis (stomach upset) and/or pancreatitis. So if your dog ate “only” white chocolate You still can’t be too complacent. You can still develop vomiting and diarrhea, which can be very serious if left untreated or if the symptoms do not improve quickly on their own. This is a particular problem with old or young dogs as they can dehydrate quickly, which can lead to organ damage and weakness.
My dog just ate chocolate: now what?
The best advice is to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Once a dog eats chocolate (or something else), it takes about 2-6 hours for the food to enter the intestine from the stomach. If your dog has eaten a toxic amount of chocolate in the past 2 hours, your veterinarian will likely offer to see your pet for vomiting.
The goal is simple: “decontaminate” and Remove as much chocolate from the stomach as possible, which reduces the amount of theobromine that is absorbed by the body. DO NOT try to make her sick at home unless your veterinarian tells you to. Most “home remedies” are poisonous and cause serious damage. If they don’t work, your veterinarian cannot have options in the clinic.
What happens in the veterinarian’s office?
Knowing what type of chocolate your dog has eaten is useful Take the package with you or write it down. It is practical for your veterinarian to know what type of chocolate product has been eaten, whether it contains other toxins (such as dried fruit or nuts) and whether there is packaging, packaging parts, or anything else that your dog has eaten.
Your veterinarian will take a medical history and do a quick examination of your dog. At this stage, it is important to mention whether your dog is already having problems or is taking medication. Don’t be surprised if things move fairly quickly when you arrive at the vet. Our veterinarian can take your dog away from you to get sick in the back and then return to get more information from you. That’s because Time is of the essence. Your veterinarian can also ask you to stay with your dog while he is sick, especially if he has little staff.
The vet will make your dog sick with an injection – this usually works within a few minutes and its effects don’t last that long – it’s all over in 15-45 minutes. Once your dog is no longer sick, your vet may offer you a small amount of food to calm his belly. However, this depends on the veterinarian and the dog. Not All dogs will want to eat sick after illness – although in my experience about 95% of Labradors do this!
Your dog should be on a mild diet for the next 24-48 hours and monitored for concerns. Caffeine is also absorbed from the bladder mucosa. So make sure that your dog is allowed outside to encourage frequent urination. You may find that he or she is still pointing slight signs of toxicity – These are most likely gastrointestinal (abdominal) disorders such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Not sure when it was eaten, what’s next?
If your dog has eaten the chocolate for more than 4 hours, it is usually of little benefit to making it sick. However, if there is a possibility that this happened within this time, and especially if you think your dog has high levels of theobromine (i.e. dark chocolate or a large amount of milk chocolate), it may still be worth trying.
Your vet can Prescribe activated carbon to mix in your dog’s food or via a syringe to bind toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and thus reduce the amount consumed. Please note that this is NOT “only” charcoal, but one veterinary prescription liquid. Charcoal does not have the same effects. We strongly recommend that you do not feed them to your dog.
It can take up to 10 hours for theobromine to be fully absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream. However, these first few hours are key to treatment as we veterinarians are unable to remove it once it has left the dog’s stomach. But it is important to remember it even if your dog doesn’t look that way has negative side effects They are not immediately clear for at least 24 hours because the theobromine is absorbed for so long and the symptoms appear.
Feed your dog on a mild diet, make sure he has access to freshwater, and that he is often allowed to go outside to use the toilet. Pay close attention to symptoms. If you have any concerns in the next 24 to 48 hours, please contact your veterinarian.
If your dog shows symptoms such as hyperexcitability, muscle tremors, seizures, or collapse, you should contact your veterinarian immediately as these are symptoms of toxicity and require urgent assessment, monitoring, and treatment by your veterinarian.
Reduce your risks
The easiest way to ensure that you are never in this situation is to make sure there is no chocolate lying around that your dogs can access and make fun of. This means that nothing on the countertops and cabinet doors should be closed. Children are often the culprits. Make sure they know they have to lock their chocolate away. especially at Easter. And make sure that all chocolate-shaped packages under the Christmas tree are out of reach until the big day. Always plan the worst-case scenario and assume that even dogs with good track records eat things that they shouldn’t if they can reach them!
One of the most important things you can do is make sure that all members of your family are aware of it Chocolate is poisonous and also about the potentially very serious side effects (and the veterinary bill!) that could result. When everyone is on the same page, protecting our pets is much easier.
If you find yourself in a situation where your dog has eaten chocolate (and despite our efforts, accidents still sometimes happen), please call your veterinarian to discuss this immediately. They may simply tell you not to worry, but they are best able to help you decide what to do.