Knowing your actions could be the reason your pup is being rushed to puppy hospital, isn’t a nice thought! As a doggy owner, you should be aware of what is and isn’t good for you pet (we hope), but sometimes, our furry friends get a little mischievous, and end up in places they shouldn’t... and eating things they shouldn't!
Chocolate… something we all know is not good for dogs. We have all heard about how toxic it can be, but do we know why? Even though you may have found your dog on more than one occasion demolishing a box of truffles and having no reaction, this doesn’t mean that chocolate is okay for dogs – it just means you were lucky.
It does, however, depend on the quantity of the chocolate consumed, the type of chocolate and the size of your dog. For example; if you have a Great Dane, they could eat a little bit of milk chocolate and be okay… whereas a smaller dog, like a Yorkshire Terrier, could eat the same and end up very poorly! This is why keeping chocolate away from your dog is better than risking it - no matter how much they beg.
Although us humans love the odd bit of chocolate; either to make us feel a bit better or just for a little indulgence, your dog could be seriously ill if they were to ingest it. This is due to what chocolate is made from – cocoa. Cocoa comes from a pod that grows on a cocoa tree, normally found along the equator belt. This plant is called Theobroma, which contains theobromine… something us humans find delicious, but for your pup, it is incredibly toxic.
It can be quite a misconception, but ALL types of chocolate contain theobromine. The level of the substance may vary from dark to white chocolate, but it will be there, regardless. So, for some dogs, even the smallest bit of this toxic substance could be fatal.
That naughty little bar of white chocolate hiding in your candy box might be an exciting idea for you, but it is also a very attractive snack for your dog. White chocolate is mainly made from cocoa butter, rather than just cocoa. This is normally to get the lighter, creamier consistency, compared to milk and dark chocolate. As there is always theobromine found in cocoa, the quantity in the chocolate will be a lot lower…but it’s still
You guessed it… milk chocolate has more cocoa in it, meaning it has a higher quantity of theobromine. Of course, it also contains milk and cocoa butter, which can dilute the theobromine, but that doesn’t mean it is safe for your dog to eat. If your dog is bigger than average, the one-off accidental chocolate is unlikely to cause a problem, but is it worth the risk?
A lot of milk chocolate bars vary in their cocoa content, so you need to make sure that, regardless, you keep an eye on your pooch and do whatever you can to keep your pup away from candy bars.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine. So dark, bittersweet chocolate will normally containing between 40% - 100% cocoa solids, meaning A LOT of toxic theobromine. Milk isn’t normally added to bittersweet chocolate, instead, cocoa butter is used to get the creamy consistency. With all that extra cocoa content, the risk of causing illness is extremally high.
This is the most toxic form of chocolate for your pooch! Cocoa powder is as raw as you can get when it comes to chocolate. You may use it when you make the odd cake or sprinkle it into a coffee or hot cocoa? If you have cocoa powder in your house, you need to be extra careful with it around your dog. Keep it in a high, hard-to - reach cupboard.
TIP: Just ALWAYS keep in mind that all chocolate could be fatal for your dog.
Signs and symptoms of chocolate poising can start to show between 6 – 12 hours after your dog has eaten it, although some dogs have been known to start to show symptoms up to 72 hours later! That’s a big window of time between consumption and the symptoms beginning to show.
Your pooch may start to suffer from:
If you notice your dog showing any of these symptoms after they have eaten chocolate, you need to take action immediately. Sadly, the older your dog, the lower the chance of surviving chocolate poising will be.
Regardless of the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten, it is a good idea to contact a vet as soon as possible. Even if your dog has eaten chocolate before, your dog might not be so lucky this time. It might seem over precautious, but it is better to get them seen to straight away, rather than when it’s too late.
Take any wrappers that may have been left over with you to the vet. This can be a strong indication to how much chocolate you pup may have eaten. The more your vet knows, the easier it will be for them to help.
Your vet will be able to assess the situation and may send you back home to keep a close eye on your pup. Each case is different, so your vet will make sure that they do what is needed.
You might think that keeping your favorite chocolate bar in the cupboard is completely safe, but sometimes your dog may become a bit of a scavenger. It's in their nature. There are many, simple, effective ways you can make sure chocolate is away from your beloved pups; including keeping your snacks in a metal box with a latching lid, storing them in a high cupboard, or in a room that your dog can’t gain access to.
Unfortunately, as said above, you might not be aware that your dog has eaten chocolate, especially if their symptoms don’t show for 3 days! This is why you need to make sure you stay on top of where you keep the chocolate in your house. Don’t leave it on the coffee table where it is easy for your pooch to reach. If you start eating a box of candy, with a few chocolates in it, make sure you keep it completely out of reach.
The best way to avoid your dog eating chocolate is to never let them get a taste for it. The sweet, creamy, tasty snack that we enjoy is just as appealing to dogs. Always keep it away from your pooch and do not give in to those puppy dog eyes (literally). You won’t be doing your dog any favors.
TIP: Avoid keeping their treats near your food. Your dog will know where their favorite nibbles are kept, so if you keep your chocolate in the same place, your dog won’t know the difference if they break into the snack cupboard. Keep your food and their food separate.
The risks of your dog becoming ill from eating chocolate are too high to ignore. If you know that they have eaten an amount, regardless of size, it is our advice to contact your vet as soon as possible. Yes, if your dog is a larger breed, it should mean less to worry about, but as their owner, it would be extremely sensible to act fast. The sooner you get your pup to the vet, the higher their chances of survival are! Keep chocolate away from your dog...that will stop them from consuming the toxic treat.