We’ve all heard that you can’t feed chocolates to your dogs, but do you really know why? Not knowing the facts may make you believe that a sliver or two once in a while won’t hurt your pooch – and he does seem to love it so much!
However, don’t let your doggie’s drooling sway you; say a strict no and hand him a biscuit instead. Here’s a closer look at the dangers of chocolate:
Theobromine in Chocolate
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, which is used to make chocolate. Different types of chocolates have different levels of theobromine; while pure cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate have high levels of theobromine, milk chocolate contains less. White chocolate has the lowest level of theobromine as only trace amounts of cocoa are used to make it.
While humans process theobromine easily, dogs are only able to process it at a tortoise rate, giving it the chance to release and build up toxins in the dog’s system. Small dogs tend to be more quickly affected after eating chocolate than larger dogs as the toxity spreads faster.
After eating small amounts of chocolate, a dog will get an upset stomach and begin vomiting or have diarrhoea. If they consumed a whole bar or more, theobromine can cause muscle tremors, seizures, irregular heartbeats and even a heart attack.
Since these are internal symptoms, owners can look for cues like vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, seizures and increased reflex responses.
If your dog is displaying symptoms of chocolate poisoning, take them to a vet immediately. In the interim, try to get your dog to vomit by sticking a finger down his throat to activate his gag reflex.
Your vet will monitor your dog’s heart rate as well as study urine and blood to determine whether he’s ingested chocolate after which he’ll start a treatment course.
As always, prevention is always better than cure; chocolate poisoning can be highly traumatic for dogs as well as their owners. Don’t sneak them that little bit, no matter how much they plead. It’s not worth it.