Chocolate and Dogs Can Be A Toxic Mix!
There is a myth that dogs and other animals will intuitively know what is harmful to them and will simply not consume those foods. This is completely false as dogs, just like other animals, can be seriously hurt or even killed by consuming foods that are perfectly safe for humans.
In addition, many of these foods, including chocolate, are something that dogs love. After all, they are a milk product that is high in fat, and they are just as appealing to our four-legged friends as they are to us.
It is important as a pet owner to keep chocolate and many other items out of reach of your dog throughout the year. Don’t listen to people that say they have fed their dog chocolate or that use that age-old saying “a little piece won’t hurt.” Dogs have different sensitivity to chocolate and it is also a factor of the weight of the dog that makes it too risky to consider.
What is Dangerous About Chocolate for Dogs?
Chocolate contains a naturally occurring compound called theobromine. Human metabolism and digestion can easily deal with this compound, and it is quickly processed through the system.
Dogs, on the other hand, do not process it as effectively or as efficiently. This allows theobromine to build up in the system over time, causing it to easily reach toxic levels with just a few chocolate treats over a couple of days, again depending on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate. It can also build up with a single piece of chocolate or eating an excessive amount just once.
The common signs of excessive amounts of theobromine often resemble other health issues and include mild to severe tremors in the muscles and the body, anxiety and hyperactive behavior, racing or irregular heartbeat, heart attack, seizures and internal bleeding.
Even with small amounts of chocolate a dog can experience diarrhea and vomiting as well as anxiety and hyperactive types of behavior.
As a general guideline, the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. However, even white chocolate has some of the compound and should not be considered safe or a good alternative. Baking chocolate and the very dark chocolate are the most problematic for most dogs.
It is important to realize that just one ounce of a very dark chocolate, or a chocolate and nut candy combination, can poison a dog that is about 40 pounds. For toy breeds or small dogs, just a fraction of an ounce can be fatal.
Safely Storing Chocolate
There are a few simple ways to keep your pet safe from his or her temptation to eat chocolate and chocolate containing items (don’t forget about the chocolate in cookies).
- Keep chocolate for baking in airtight containers is upper cupboards or pantry shelves.
- Keep baked goods and candies that contain chocolate off of low tables where they may tempt even a well-behaved dog to sneak a treat.
- Talk to children and guests and ensure they understand the “no chocolate rule” when having gatherings and events.
Healthy treats for dogs include small amounts of raw fruits and veggies, small pieces of boiled chicken or beef or even some homemade doggie treats.