It may be a treat to you, but it isn’t for your dog. In fact, chocolate acts like a form of poison to your furry friend, and should be avoided at all costs. In large doses, most cocoa products can be lethal. However, the risk is relative to the size of your dog, amount and type of chocolate that your pet has consumed.
What's the big deal?
Theobromine is a toxic component contained in chocolate. While humans can metabolise theobromine with ease, the process is significantly slower in canines, leading to higher levels of toxins building up in their system. A large dog can, therefore, consume more chocolate compared to a smaller one, before it suffers adverse effects.
In smaller volumes, your dog can experience diarrhoea and/or vomiting. But, in higher volumes, the theobromine can cause seizures, an irregular heartbeat, heart attacks and internal bleeding. Often times, severe hyperactivity marks the onset of poisoning from this ingredient.
How to treat the symptoms
If you notice symptoms of theobromine poisoning in your dog, the first step is to induce vomiting. However, this should be done in no more than 2 hours from ingestion. If you are concerned that your dog could have consumed large amounts of chocolate and is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you are better off calling a veterinarian immediately. This way, the veterinarian will have more options on hand to gain immediate control over the situation and potentially save your dog’s life.
A small piece of chocolate should not be a cause for worry. But, if you suspect that your small dog has consumed a whole box of chocolates, you should call a veterinarian without any loss of time.
Theobromine levels are not uniform across all chocolates
Dark chocolate, cooking chocolate and cocoa have the highest level of theobromine., whilst white and milk chocolates have the lowest. If you still choose to give small quantities of bitter or dark chocolate to your dog, be cautious not to overindulge. Dark chocolates have the highest levels of theobromine and just about an ounce of chocolate could prove lethal for a dog weighing 44 pounds.
A more desirable option, however, is to avoid giving chocolates to your canines, even as part of your reward system. You can reward your dog with plenty of attention and love as an alternative, and choose better options than chocolates from pet shops.