We are coming up on several holidays where chocolates, whether they be milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate, are given as gifts. On Halloween, the kids go door to door for treats, and during the Christmas season, you can find chocolates everywhere, under the tree, in the stockings, and even on the coffee table in the living room. Most of us love eating chocolates, but how much chocolate can your dog eat?
They should not consume any!
Chocolate is very toxic to dogs and cats. So we need to be aware that we are not leaving chocolate candies within reach of any of our fur-babies.
What Makes Chocolate So Toxic?
Chocolate contains substances known as methylxanthines (specifically caffeine and theobromine), which dogs are far more sensitive to than people. Different types of chocolate include varying amounts of methylxanthines. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it can be to your dog. Your dog’s digestive system is not built to break these methylxanthines down, which in turn can make them very sick.
Symptoms to Watch For
If you believe your fur-baby has consumed some chocolate, here are symptoms to watch out for:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased reflex responses
- Muscle rigidity
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)
Help! My Dog Really Ate Chocolate
If you think that your dog may have consumed some chocolate, here is a Chocolate Toxicity Meter to help you determine how much danger your dog might be in depending on the amount and type of chocolate.
You should call your vet immediately if you think your dog has ingested a large amount of chocolate. If you can not reach your vet right away, call the Animal Poison Control Center at (855) 764-7661. It might be a good idea to have this number posted on your fridge or where ever you store your important phone numbers.
3 Ways to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Chocolate
Even though small amounts of milk chocolate may not cause a problem in larger dogs, we still need to make sure our dogs don’t eat any chocolate. To prevent your dog from sneaking chocolate, follow these tips:
Put it away: Make sure all chocolate items, including cocoa powder and hot chocolate mix, are stored where the dog cannot reach them. Remind your children and guests that chocolate should not be left on countertops, tables, or within reach of your dog. Keep this in mind during the holidays, too.
Teach your dog “leave it”: The command “leave it” is extremely useful in preventing dogs from eating something that falls onto the ground, whether it be in the dining room or kitchen, or even during a walk. It’s also an easy command to teach, just like sit, stay, or shake. The AKC has a great article on how to teach “leave it.”
Crate train your dog: The safest way to ensure your dog doesn’t eat anything harmful while you’re not home is to crate him. Find a sturdy crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. You also want to make it a comfortable, safe place for him to go when you can’t watch him. Offer toys, a stuffed Kong, a favorite blanket, and treats to help him feel like the crate is his personal home. The crate should NOT be used as a punishment.
Keep your pets safe this holiday season! We would love for you to help us spread the word on how dangerous not only chocolate can be for our pets, but candy too.
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Photo Josh Hild