It’s Valentine’s Day week, & chocolate seems to be all over my field of vision ~ both in physical stores AND online! If you love chocolate as much as I do, you’re likely to always have a little of it in your home ~ I personally love to have some for desert after lunch, along with a small cup of coffee 😉
Being aware of the dangers chocolate products pose to our pets is a good idea all year long; however, Valentine’s Day week is an excellent opportunity for a little refresher article. Here’s how to keep your dog safe from chocolate this Valentine’s Day!
Methylxanthine Theobromine In Chocolate
Chocolate contains the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine, which are poisenous to dogs (& cats). The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, making dark chocolate much more dangerous to our best friends than milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains between 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while milk chocolate contains between 44-58 mg per ounce. White chocolate only contains 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce.
So whenever you’re baking with baker’s chocolate or happen to have truffles or pralines at home, check twice or even three times to make sure they are 150% out of reach of your pup’s paws!!
Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning (Chocolate Toxicosis)
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning, also known as chocolate toxicosis, occur between 6-12 hours after ingestion, and include drooling, vomiting, increased heart rate & hyperactivity, elevated body temperature (Hyperthermia), elevated blood pressure (Hypertension), diarrhea, excessive urination (Polyuria), excessive thirst (Polydipsia), seizures, & even coma.
A side effect could also be pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to the high fat content of chocolate.
Veterinary Treatment for Chocolate Toxicosis
Should your pet need veterinary treatment for chocolate poisoning, vomiting will be induced if no more than 4 hours have passed since the chocolate ingestion.
Activated charcoal will be given to absorb the theobromine every 12 hours as long as the symptoms are present.
Intravenous fluids may have to be given as well in order to dilute the toxins.
In case of an emergency, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435. Their toxicology hotline offers advice & treatment options 24/7, 365 days, and has been operating since 1978.
Their phones are answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists.
There is a charge of $65 per case which is charged to your credit card (you MUST have a credit card in order to be “seen”).
The poison control center will be able to calculate how much methylxanthine was ingested, and which course of action to take ~ whether to induce vomiting at home, or to take your pet to his vet or emergency vet clinic right away.
APCC By ASPCA Free App
Once downloaded, you can choose your pet’s species & start browsing the different categories. Each potential hazard is categorized in different risk levels, advising what course of action to take (mild, moderate, severe).
Chocolate Toxicity Meter by petMD
Another easy-to-use feature is the Chocolate Toxicity Meter by petMD. It lets you enter the amount of chocolate you suspect your dog has consumed, as well as the type of chocolate and your dog’s weight, along with his risk level of poisoning and symptoms to look out for.
I played around with it a little and entered various amounts and different kinds of chocolate ~ the results varied from “mild” to “severe”, and even “none” as far as the risk of poisoning was concerned. Very interesting indeed!
Chocolate Toxicity Meter by petMD
Proactive Safety Approaches
It’s actually not hard implementing a few proactive safety approaches that will keep our pup out of chocolate’s way:
We keep our chocolate (and other snacks) in our pantry behind a shut pantry door.
We also keep all snack-goodies on a higher shelve to make access even harder should the pantry door remain open for whatever reason (it really doesn’t unless we’re in the kitchen preparing food).
If you have kids, make sure they understand the severity of chocolate poisoning in their K9 (and/or feline) best friend & instruct them & their potential friends to NEVER share any chocolate with their pets.
Don’t leave any chocolate human treats & baked goods within easy reach of curious paws & muzzles. A chocolate cake needing to cool off can do so in the microwave or a different room behind shut doors (laundry room or sun room maybe, or even an office or spare bedroom if need be).
A box of chocolates or pralines should not be “parked” on a low side table or coffee table, where it can easily be forgotten. Take out however many chocolate treats you’re wanting to indulge in, place them on a little dish you keep eagle eyes on, and put the box with the remaining goodies behind a shut pantry or cabinet door.
Teach a solid stay & leave-it command that may prevent a poisoning catastrophe (& a hefty vet bill) should some chocolate (or any other food not meant for pets) fall to the ground.
Bottom Line: Incorporating several simple proactive safety approaches will make for an enjoyable Valentine’s Day & week for your entire pack!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Will you be indulging in a piece of chocolate or two?! As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!