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Why you should keep your dog away from the Christmas chocolates

As the holidays draw near it may be tempting to treat your pets to the same decadences which you may be indulging during the holiday. However, it is important to keep in mind the differences in digestive capacities between humans and our beloved pets. What may be a tasty and harmless treat for us during the holidays can be a lethal mistake if it gets into the tummies of our furry friends. 

Chocolate can be extremely toxic to your pets, resulting in injurious symptoms which occasionally result in death. Chocolate contains toxic elements to canines called methylxanthines. These include chemicals like theobromine and caffeine, which are non-toxic to humans but can make dogs very sick.

When digested these compounds can cause:

  • gastrointestinal tract irritation (vomiting)
  • cardiovascular symptoms (tachycardia)
  • central nervous agitation (seizures) 

The severity of a dog’s reaction to methylxanthines is relative to the quantity of chocolate ingested as well as the relative concentration of cacao within the chocolate consumed. 

Cute brown mexican chihuahua dog isolated on light pink background. Outraged, unhappy dog looks left. Copy Space Cute brown mexican chihuahua dog isolated on light pink background. Outraged, unhappy dog looks left. Copy Space dog chocolate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Theobromine is rapidly metabolized within the digestive tract of canines making the onset of symptoms very sudden and severe. The oral lethal dose of chocolate is approximately 300 mg/kg of body weight for the average canine. Dogs have lower capacities to metabolize and excrete theobromine, making them far more sensitive to acute toxicities. As a rule of thumb, the darker and higher cacao concentrations present in the chocolate will increase the dangers of ingestion. 

Cacao powder ingestion is linked to the more sudden deaths of pets brought in suffering from chocolate toxicities observed by veterinarians. It is important to keep your baking supplies as well as all sweets out of the reach of your pets.

Symptoms of toxicities include but are not limited to:

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Excitement
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma  

There is also the possibility of cardiac disruption which can result in:

  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • uncontrollable thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • urinary incontinence

With the most severe cases of indulgence resulting in sudden death, less severe cases may resolve in the absence of veterinarian intervention. However, it is always best to consult a professional to be certain. 

Dog giving paw asking for chocolate Dog giving paw asking for valentines chocolate dog chocolate stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Online you can find calculators which can assist you in predicting the severity of poisoning which your dog is facing, this will be based on the type and quantity of chocolate that your pet has ingested. The Pet MD site provides a meter for pet owners to range toxicity levels to gauge the severity of symptoms that will follow consumption of chocolate. In most cases dogs should be immediately brought to the vet pending the more severe symptoms, rarely will your veterinarian suggest otherwise. On occasion if owners are comfortable to initiate vomiting this can be an extreme measure to prevent death if people do not have immediate access to a professional.  

So remember this holiday season to keep the human treats far out of reach from our precious pups!

Dog trying to eat chocolate
Dog trying to eat chocolate

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February 20, 2024
5 minutes
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