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You love chocolate. You love your dog. So you want to reward your dog with what you think is one of life’s greatest pleasures, chocolate. STOP! Under no circumstances should you feed your dog chocolate. Chocolate is toxic and often deadly to dogs.
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs and not to humans? Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are known as methylxanthines, at levels that are toxic to dogs due to their relatively smaller body size.
What does theobromine do to the body? Like caffeine, it is a central nervous system and a cardiovascular stimulant; it can increase blood pressure and cause nausea and vomiting. Some symptoms a dog may show are: excitement (including nervousness or tremor), restlessness, hyperactivity, hypersensitivity to touch, rapid heart rate and respiratory rate, loss of control of leg muscles, attacks of muscle tremor, weakness, vomiting / diarrhoea, excessive thirst, excessive urination, coma and death.
Some chocolates are more deadly than others. Sugar-free chocolate, sometimes known as bakery chocolate, contains 450 milligrams of theobromine per ounce (8-10 times the amount of theobromine in milk chocolate at 45-60 mg / ounce). Semi-sweet chocolate (130-185 mg / oz.) is roughly between the two for the theobromine content. White chocolate contains theobromine, but in very small amounts. The size of your dog can also play a factor, the smaller the dog is, the less chocolate needs to be toxic. Based on the experience of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre (APPC), mild signs occur in animals that ingest 10 milligrams of theobromine per pound of body weight, severe signs are observed at doses of more than 20 mg per pound of body weight and 70 mg / pound of body weight is a fatal dose for both dogs and humans. Just 2 ounces of baking chocolate or 4 ounces (1/4 pound) of dark chocolate contains a fatal 15-pound dose of theobromine for a dog, and death can occur within 6 to 24 hours of ingestion. If your pug eats as little as 1 tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips, it can be fatal. Death from heart failure can also occur after a few days of chronic cumulative exposure (small amounts of chocolate are eaten for several days).
What should you do if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate? Immediately call your vet for advice. They will probably suggest that you bring the dog immediately. Be sure to take any chocolate without eating so that your vet can better diagnose the severity of the situation.
Treatment depends on the size of your dog, as well as the amount and type of chocolate he has eaten. There is no specific antidote for theobromine toxicity, but treatment may include intravenous fluids, vomiting-inducing medications, activated charcoal, anticonvulsant medications, and / or heart medications. If ingestion has occurred within 6 hours, it is worth inducing vomiting to decrease overall theobromine exposure. Your vet can perform this procedure, but if you are in a remote area or do not have access to your vet or an emergency vet within 6 hours of exposure, you can induce vomiting by having your dog swallow a few tablespoons of peroxide hydrogen administered with a turkey baster. This technique can also save your life if your dog has eaten snail bait. Do not attempt this emergency procedure without first consulting a veterinarian.
Chocolate takes a while to decompose and excrete in dogs, 16 to 24 hours, so just because your dog ate chocolate while he was at work and seems fine now, doesn’t mean it won’t affect them. Certain medications like Steroids (prednisone and similar drugs) and erythromycin (an antibiotic) interfere with the excretion of theobromine and can worsen and lengthen symptoms.