Who doesn’t love chocolate? An innocent delicacy with a beloved taste that evokes in us a pleasant feeling of euphoria … even our pets will be happy if we share with them some of the chocolate we eat. Unfortunately, eating chocolate by dogs can lead to poisoning with significant consequences and even death. If we are tempted from time to time to offer your dog some chocolate – we will think again.
Chocolate, one of the most common ingredients in our food, is toxic to dogs and cats, so any option they can consume should be avoided. Although chocolate is also toxic to cats, dogs are the most common victims of it for the simple reason that they love the sweet taste and know how to search and find sweets at home.
The reason that chocolate is toxic to dogs but not to humans is that we break down and excrete more efficiently two substances in chocolate that greatly affect the body: theobromine and caffeine. These substances, especially theobromine, increase the activity of the central nervous system and cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), raise blood pressure and cause nausea and vomiting. The half-life of theobromine in a dog is 17.5 hours , which means that it has an effect of up to about 35 hours from the moment it is consumed.
Some types of chocolate are more toxic than others. Caffeine levels are low in chocolate relative to theobromine and most signs of poisoning are attributed to the theobromine effect. It takes between 100 and 150 mg per kg of the dog’s body weight to cause poisoning. That is, if the dog is an average Labrador who weighs 30 kg, he must consume 4500 mg of theobromine, that is, about three packs of 100 grams of dark chocolate, to develop poisoning. In small dogs the poisoning may be caused by much smaller amounts.
The clinical signs that the dog will see depend very much on the type of chocolate, the percentage of cocoa in it, the amount eaten and the weight of the dog. Usually the signs of poisoning will appear within 6-12 hours of eating but there may also be signs of late poisoning due to the late effect of chocolate absorption.
Among the common signs:
The diagnosis usually relies on our testimony of describing that the dog ate chocolate (usually they will return home and find an empty half-eaten package with no trace of the chocolate that was inside). Accompanying clinical signs, such as chocolate vomiting, will strengthen the hypothesis. It is also possible to send a laboratory test to detect the presence of active ingredients present in chocolate in the blood or stomach contents, but there is usually evidence of exposure and there is no real need for this.
Treatment depends on the time elapsed from eating the chocolate, the risk assessment (depending on the dog’s weight, the amount and type of chocolate eaten) and the signs of poisoning that developed. There is no antidote to the toxic substances in chocolate and the means of treatment after eating are divided into two subgroups:
Preventing the continued absorption of the toxins in chocolate:
In addition, various cases will require hospitalization in a veterinary hospital, for the purpose of treatment and more importantly – for monitoring the dog’s condition, monitoring heart activity and providing treatment according to the signs of poisoning that may develop in a short time.
Completely avoid giving chocolate to dogs, in all its forms and in any quantity! Dosage calculations are intended for the veterinarian for assessing the risk after eating and not for us for calculating “how far the limit can be stretched”. In addition, we need keep the chocolate in our home in places that our dog will not be able to reach – deep in the closet (and yes … they can definitely also eat chocolate along with the packaging if they reach an average chocolate bar).