chocolate poisoning

The dangers of feeding your dog chocolate

The dangers of feeding your dog chocolate

Christmas is just around the corner, and homes must be getting ready. The decoration, the surreptitious gift wrapping and hiding, the Christmas tree, and the cooking! And let’s not torture ourselves with the heady aroma of baking and cooking. One of the chief ingredients intrinsic to all the cookies and cakes and pastries is the chocolate. Take your pick; will it be dark or milk? But whatever you like, do make sure to keep it away from your dogs. Yes, they’ll beg and look at you with their puppy eyes, but under no circumstances are you to share even a tiny piece with your furry friend. Do you know that chocolate is extremely harmful to dogs, even poisonous to some? The actual danger depends on the size of the dog, the type of chocolate eaten and the quantity. The side effects can range from vomiting and diarrhea on a lower scale, to muscle tremors, seizure, internal bleeding and even heart attack on the other side of the scale.

Let’s understand why chocolate is harmful to dogs:

Chocolate is made from the bitter cocoa beans which contain a compound known as theobromine, and this is the culprit for dogs. It is apparently not good for humans too, but we can metabolize this quickly. However, dogs take longer and it stays in their system, turning into a chemical called xanthine in the dog’s liver, building increasing levels of toxicity in their bodies. Xanthine interferes with a dog’s normal body function. It is known to increase their heart rate and also to cause abnormal, increased central nervous system activity. Larger breeds may show signs much later than a smaller dog, but believe us, no dog is immune to the dangers of chocolate. The worst of the chocolate varieties are dark chocolate, cocoa, and drinking chocolate, which contain the highest level of theobromine. White and milk chocolates are relatively milder, but it is still not advisable to let your dogs get to it.

cocolate poisoning

Recognizing the symptoms of chocolate poisoning:

If you suspect that your dog managed to eat chocolate, don't wait for warning signs. Talk to your vet or rush him to the clinic right away. Symptoms can take 6 to 12 hours to show up. Chocolate poisoning symptoms include:
  • Extreme thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Too much energy/ hyperactivity
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Shaking
  • Seizures

How do you handle chocolate poisoning?

The best way to reverse or prevent chocolate poisoning is to induce vomiting. Your dog might even vomit on his own as a means to clear his body of the toxic elements. If he does not, then you can use hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up. Use 1 tablespoon for every 9kgs. Use a medicine dropper to get the liquid in him. Some people also bribe their dog with peanut butter in a bowl and the hydrogen peroxide on the rim. Dogs tend to lick their bowls clean. After the dog vomits do not give him any food or water. As a precaution, visit the vet even if your dog has vomited. He might get dehydrated and could use IV and fluids to keep him stable. The vet might also recommend a stomach flush to get all traces of chocolate out of his system. Activated charcoal is yet another treatment to prevent the chocolate from getting into the dog’s blood. Chocolate poisoning, while serious, can be taken care of with quick action. Cats usually don’t usually suffer since they don’t have a sweet tooth. And we all know that dogs will eat just about anything, and not know when to stop. A small dog can easily polish off a half a kg bag of chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookies.

Sick dog

Precautions to take

This Christmas, take extra care to not let your pooch get his paws or nose into chocolate of any kind. And remember, chocolate in any quantity is not good for your dog. Never use chocolate as a reward and don’t get fooled by those pleading eyes. From all of us here at BARF, a very Merry Christmas to you all!