Our digestive systems are very different to our canine friends. Many foods that are harmless to us are poisonous to our dogs.
You should never feed chocolate to dogs as it contains a toxic ingredient called theobromine. It has no negative effects on our own bodies, but even a small amount can make a dog sick and can even be fatal.
Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of theobromine, but high traces are still found in milk chocolate too. So if you want your dog to join you in a tasty treat, stick to suitable fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, blueberries or pears.
Symptoms to watch out for
Symptoms usually appear within 4-24 hours after a dog has eaten chocolate. Chocolate poisoning mainly affects a dog’s heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Since it can affect major organs, it’s crucial your dog gets help quickly. Your dog may show any of the following signs:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
How much chocolate is poisonous to dogs?
It all depends on the type of chocolate consumed and the size of the dog. It’s best to stay away from feeding chocolate altogether, but if your dog accidentally eats some, you first need to consider how much your dog weighs. As a general rule, 100-150 mg of theobromine to 1kg of bodyweight is toxic to dogs.
There is 600 mg of theobromine in a 100g bar of dark chocolate. This amount could be fatal to a small 6kg dog. VetsNow has an excellent calculator to help you determine whether the amount your dog has eaten is toxic. This will help you decide how critical the situation may be for your dog.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate?
If you know your dog has eaten any amount of chocolate, it’s always best to seek advice from a vet. There is no antidote to reverse the effects of theobromine poisoning, which is why it’s important you seek help immediately. How quickly you act can make all the difference to saving your dog’s life.
Inducing vomiting is the most common form of treatment. This can be effective if caught within two hours after your dog has eaten chocolate. It’s important you don’t try to do this yourself as you may cause damage to your dog’s throat. Never try to put your fingers down your dog’s throat.
Your vet will have special chemicals like hydrogen peroxide to help your dog vomit quickly and safely. Your vet may also feed activated charcoal to absorb any theobromine left in the stomach.
Depending on how severe your dog’s symptoms are, your vet may also suggest an intravenous drip to control your dog’s blood pressure, heart rate and seizures.
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