Pet emergency – Part 1 – Dogs and chocolate what is safe?

This weeks blog is part of our Pet Emergency series that will offer advice and information around what life is like living with animals and what to do when there is an emergency.

This is Part 1 which will explain why dogs can not eat chocolate and what to do if your dog eats some by accident.

The Not Just Pets Blog post is for information only. It should not replace veterinary advice. If it is an emergency and your pet is ill please ring a vet immediately. 

What is in chocolate that is so bad for dogs?

Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine which is similar to caffeine. This is what is poisonous to dogs. Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine, white chocolate the least and dark chocolate the most.

In 25 grams of white chocolate there is minimal amount, in milk chocolate 44-64mg, in dark chocolate 390-450mg and in dry cocoa powder 800mg.

100-150mg of theobromine per Kg of bodyweight is toxic to dogs. So if a regular sized dog weighing 30kg eats 1kg of milk chocolate it is enough for a fatal toxic reaction.

How does it harm your dog?

Theobromine will affect your dog’s heart, central nervous system and its kidneys, depending on how much the dog has eaten compared to its body weight.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

When a dog has eaten some chocolate depending on how much they have eaten and their body weight you can expect these symptoms.

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • restlessness
  • breathing difficulties
  • muscle tension
  • increased heart rate
  • seizure

These can start from 4 hours up to 24 hours after consumption. The sooner you get to see a vet the better the outcome for your dog

What should you do if your dog eats chocolate by mistake?

Contact your vet straight away and they will be available to advise you of what to do. They will offer treatment which will be induced vomiting to avoid the chocolate being ingested. If it is too late for that then the vet may offer medication to control the dog’s heart rate and blood pressure.

Case study Lola the staffie 

Lola is a one year old staffie, her owner Siobhan adopted her from the local shelter. The family knows that Lola likes to scavenge for food and so no tasty tidbits are ever left out and about for Lola to help herself to. Siobhan has two children who have been taught not to give Lola anything extra to eat.

Last Sunday was Easter Sunday and the children had their Easter egg. Siobhan’s oldest child put her egg down on the table for a second and Lola had scoffed it! This could have happened to anyone that owns a dog; with all the extra treats and excitement going on during a family event sometimes thing can go wrong. Dogs seem to know how tasty chocolate is and will take any open opportunity to get it!

Knowing chocolate is not good for dogs Siobhan rang the vets and was able to take Lola in to be seen. They made her vomit so she didn’t ingest the chocolate as the amount she had eaten would have done some serious damage if not killed Lola. Lola was back home that evening with her family safe and sound.

If Siobhan didn’t know the dangers of chocolate she may not have called the vet straight away. Most pet owners do not call the vet until their pet is showing signs that they are ill. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning may not show up until 4-24 hours later when it may be too late for your vet to take action.

What if I like to give my dog a treat?

The information here is to let you the pet owner be aware of why certain things are not recommended for pets. If you enjoy giving your pet a tasty treat or you get those puppy dog eyes looking at you when you are eating your favourite snack, don’t be tempted to give a little taste as there are some alternatives! At Not Just Pets we stock a variety of treats that are suitable for dogs including doggie chocolate bars!

Our staff are on hand to guide you through all the different treats available. From biscuits and chocolate drops to pigs’ ears! There is something for every dog and pocket.

We look forward to welcoming you in store soon: remember we are open in our Bath store 7 days a week!

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