Most people know that chocolate isn’t safe for their pets but what makes it harmful and when should you panic? Here’s a quick breakdown, there are two types of methylxanthines in chocolate that are toxic, caffeine and theobromine, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the smaller the portion needed to cause toxicity.
Non-Toxic = White Chocolate
Very Toxic = Pure Cocoa
So what’s the big deal? What happens when they eat chocolate? This depends on the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate and how much they ate. In mild cases, some GI upset is the most common sign - aka vomiting and diarrhea. This is not usually life threatening, but certainly can get messy. In more severe cases, you might notice some agitation or hyperactivity (more than usual). At this point their heart rate is through the roof and this can be dangerous. This is could be fatal to your pet if their heart rate gets too high or becomes irregular. The other main concern is the possibility of neurologic changes such as muscle tremors or seizure activity.
What do you do when Fido is being emotional and eats all the chocolate in the house? Always call your vet and try to have the packaging on hand if possible (sometimes not accessible when it’s inside your dog’s stomach). If it’s a non-toxic amount, then you’re probably all set! If it’s a potentially or definitely toxic amount, the first goal is usually decontamination. This means making them puke up their scrumptious little snack. Sometimes this can be done at home with hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that this method can be rough on the belly and doesn’t always work. Your vet’s office should have medication that can induce vomiting within a couple of minutes and is a bit gentler on the intestines. Don’t sit around and wait, chocolate melts, so once it hits their stomach, it starts being absorbed pretty quick. In highly toxic cases, anticipate that your precious angel may need to stay at the hospital for a day or so. Your vet will go over a treatment plan with you in order to get Fluffy back home in no time.
This Valentine’s day, share your love but be selfish with your chocolate.