Chocolate and Dogs

Why Chocolate is  Bad for Dogs

Everybody loves special holidays such as Christmas and the delicious chocolate that come along with it. Well, everyone except your dog that is. As much as pet owners like to share holiday treats and goodies with our four-legged friends, we must never share our chocolates. As much as our pooches may love the smell and even the taste of chocolate, they will not love the after effects of having chocolate poisoning that is likely to follow.

Chocolate is Toxic

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, even if the sweet-toothed pups don’t understand this, and it can be very dangerous when even the smallest amount is ingested.
The cocoa bean plant contains a poisonous chemical called Theobromine. This toxin is a naturally occurring stimulant that has dangerous effects on the central nervous system and heart of dogs, essentially putting their systems in a state of panic.

Time is of the essence

It’s often quite difficult to know when and how much chocolate a dog has eaten, especially if all you have is a pile of shiny wrappers. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning don’t always appear immediately, with some not appearing until 8 hours have passed, after consuming the chocolate. If you know that your pet has only eaten a tiny square of choccie, or a couple of M and M’s, don’t panic, chances are he will be fine. However, is he has scoffed a larger amount, especially baking or dark chocolate, contact your Vet for further advice.

The size of the dog matters

A larger sized dog can eat a lot more chocolate than a tiny pup before he will suffer any health problems. Likewise, different brands and types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine toxins. Dark chocolate, cooking chocolate and cocoa all have high levels and will affect your dog the most. White and milk chocolate both have lesser quantities of the poisonous chemical.

If your dog eats just a small amount of human chocolate, he will probably have diarrhoea or vomit, with an upset tummy. However, larger amounts of chocolate when consumed by a dog can have devastating effects.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Our four-legged friends are likely to experience many terrible symptoms as a result of eating more than just a tiny amount of chocolate.
Watch your animal closely if you think your dog may have eaten chocolates, keeping an extra close eye out for the following symptoms:

• frequent urination
• muscle twitching
• vomiting and diarrhoea
• especially fast heartbeat (arrhythmia)
• restlessness
• obvious discomfort

How to Treat your Dog if it Eats Chocolate

Depending on the amount of chocolate the animal has ingested, and certain variables about the dog specifically, including size and weight, general health, and the age of the dog, symptoms will vary in severity. Signs of chocolate poisoning can starts to present within just a few minutes, or not be apparent for several hours, so if you know for certain, or suspect it has been eaten, it is imperative to contact your vet immediately.

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating your pooch, so it is best to induce vomiting and empty the contents of the stomach, ideally before the toxins have time to reach the animal’s bloodstream.

The vet has many relief aids available to assist in treatment, including drugs to induce vomiting, careful professional monitoring of the dog’s condition, medications to regulate the heartbeat, and charcoal to absorb any remaining poison in the stomach.

Prevention is Key

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to protect your animal from unnecessary pain and suffering and the best way to do that is by taking preventative measures.
Always keep chocolates well out of reach and put away in a safe location where your dog cannot get at them. There are, of course, special dog chocolates available on the market, but instead, why not bake your pooch some homemade treats?

Please note that Finchley Dog Walker are not medical professionals and we always encourage you to contact your vet if your dog has eaten anything he shouldn’t do.