Just a couple of days ago, we talked about some common poisons for dogs – including chocolate. A tasty treat for people but a problem and a half for pooches, this stuff is marvelous and deadly.
Most pet owners know that chocolate is poisonous for dogs, but many pet owners don’t know why.
We thought we’d take a little time to explore the issue in detail and tell you exactly why the stuff is such a problem for dogs.
The Two Troubles
Chocolate for dogs is a problem for two main reasons: it can be toxic and it is packed with fatty butter and cream that can cause pancreas problems.
There are also two toxins in chocolate. The first is caffeine and the second is theobromine. Both of these toxins are great for us people, with the latter offering that terrific chocolate high that keeps us coming back to the chocolate fountain at the dessert buffet. But for dogs, caffeine and theobromine are nothing but trouble.
Dogs are much more sensitive to these two toxins and, what’s more, they go all-in when they see it. Dogs will eat and eat and eat when and if they find chocolate, whereas your typical chocoholic human might quit after a few trips. The trouble with dogs is that they love chocolate like you wouldn’t believe, which means they’ll ingest those toxins like you wouldn’t believe. Dogs can and have eaten up to ten pounds of the stuff in one session. That’s a lot of chocolate!
Sensitivity and Other Concerns
So when a dog ingests the two troubles mentioned above – and does so to an enormous amount – the problems start with their increased levels of sensitivity.
While people feel jittery and possibly giddy after a couple cups of coffee, dogs can feel downright insane after ingesting a world of hurt in the form of coffee. Dogs have been known to develop seizures from the caffeine and theobromine. They’ve even gone into comas and cardiac arrest, developing heart arrhythmias.
What’s more, they head for the water bowl – big time. A chocolate-ingesting dog develops considerable thirst in a big hurry and, with the pancreas overwhelmed by butter and cream, can develop pancreatitis quicker than you can say “Oh, Henry!”
So here’s the deal: size matters. The type of chocolate also matters. Darker chocolate contains more of the two troubles, while milk chocolate and white chocolate contains less.
The size of the dog matters, too. A Great Dane can consume a lot more chocolate than a Chihuahua, as you might imagine, so the lethal dosages will certainly differ. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to leave a bowl of Smarties around your Husky, of course, but you may not have as much of a reason to panic as you once thought.
If your dog gets into your chocolate goodies, don’t freak out. Chocolate toxicity is treatable. The good news is that the stuff is sticky, drawing fluid into the stomach. This means you can get your dog to throw up and probably get most of the two troubles out. Some vets use intravenous fluids to rid the bloodstream of toxins and the other symptoms can be treated quite nicely.
Try not to treat your dog at home if you can help it. If he or she has delved into your stash, get to the vet right away. Make sure it’s safe to induce vomiting and let the doc do his or her thing.
Chocolate for dogs is poisonous, don’t get me wrong, but it may not be a life-threatening disaster if treatment is sought out immediately.