We know that too much of a good thing is bad for us, but even a little of some good things can be extremely harmful to your pet and no matter how much they appear to love it, chocolate is one of those things.
Chocolate designed for human consumption is actually poisonous to dogs, cats, rodents and rabbits (although cats are usually less keen on eating it). The severity of the effect depends on the amount and type of chocolate eaten, as they contain different amounts of theobromine (similar to caffeine).
A rough guide for poisoning in dogs is:
• White chocolate – no treatment required (insufficient quantities of theobromine present to cause a problem)
• Milk chocolate – treatment required for amounts over 9g per kg
• Dark chocolate – treatment required for amounts over 1g per kg
• Cocoa powder – treatment required for amounts over 0.77g per kg
Theobromine is absorbed slowly more slowly in dogs than in humans, so the effects may be slow to appear, but symptoms are mainly vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration, made worse as theobromine is also a diuretic. Theobromine also stimulates the central nervous system, leading to affected animals becoming hyperactive, hyperthermic (overheating) and developing hypertension and tachycardia. In extreme cases, they may also develop muscle rigidity, tremors and convulsions.
Treatment includes rehydration, reducing the effects of stimulants and monitoring vital signs.
It’s also worth being wary in the garden – if you’re planting bulbs and you have a dog who likes to chew anything and everything, keep them inside until the bulbs are in or packed away as many are quite toxic. For more information, please give us a call on 01453 752555. Doggy chocs are, of course, fine in moderation, as chocolate is for humans!