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Dogs and Chocolate - A Bad Mix

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Chocolate is a great treat for us humans but for dogs its a different story. Chocolate contains a stimulant known as Theobromine. Theobromine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the coco bean which effects the central nervous system and heart and can easily kill a dog. In fact, poisoning of dogs by chocolate is not as uncommon as you might think. This is becoming a major concern as vets are seeing an increase in the number of dogs being poisoned by eating chocolate.

Theobromine becomes toxic to dogs when it is ingested between 100 and 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This means that the biggest danger is to puppies and small dogs. In humans Theobromine results in frequent urination, and other minor irritation. And although not classed as harmful it can affect the central nervous system as well as heart muscle in a small percentage of humans. But in dogs it can lead to hypothermia, tremors, seizures, coma and eventually death. The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea or hyperactivity , the problem being that it doesn't show within the first few hours, but with time there's increased absorption of theobromine in bloodstream, causing a rapid rise in the heart beat, arrhythmia, restlessness, twitching, and excessive panting.

If your dog does eat chocolate, the speed and severity of the Theobromine will largely depend on the age and physical condition of the animal. A sick or elderly dog would have lower threshold to the Theobromine than a fit healthy one. The size of the animal is also a major factor, it only takes four ounce of dark chocolate to kill a small ten pound dog !

Also the darker, richer and more expensive the chocolate is, then the higher concentration of Theobromine it will contain, with milk chocolate containing the least and baking chocolate the most.

Veterinaries are of the opinion that many dog owners are unaware of the dangers of feeding their dogs chocolate, or even cakes and biscuits containing chocolate. Grapes, raisins and sultanas are also poisonous to dogs and can cause renal failure. Strangely enough there appears to be an increase in dogs eating painkillers, drugs and even contraceptive pills which are recorded as the sixth most common cause of canine poisoning. This is probably due to the items being left carelessly around where a dogs powerful sense of smell will soon pick it up. Its a fact that our four legged friends will jump at any opportunity to eat chocolate, (or anything else for that matter).

If you find that your dog has eaten chocolate you should try to induce your dog to vomit and get rid of it. The other option is to get your dog to the vet immediately. You will also find that after vomiting the dog will start to dehydrate, so make sure it has plenty of water. Its always a good idea to be prepared for such situations. Keep an emergency kit of activated charcoal to hand. One key treatment for dogs and chocolate is Taliban. This activated charcoal can be purchased through a vet in charcoal tablets, a powder, or a thick liquid. How it works with chocolate poisoning in dogs is to bind itself to the poison (in this case theobromine). This will prevent the poison from processing and absorbing into the dog's bloodstream. The sooner the Taliban is given after vomiting the better, as it will deactivate the poison's effects in the dog's body. Dosage is one teaspoon for a dog 25-pounds or less and two teaspoons for larger dogs


 Because a dogs digestive system works much slower than ours, do not be mislead into thinking that everything is alright just because there appears to be no symptoms immediately after the dog has eaten chocolate. If you think your dog has ingested chocolate take action, the quicker you act the greater chance you have of saving the dogs life. Records show that 50% of dogs die if treatment is delayed until severe and persistent vomiting developed.  

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