We know that chocolate is a tasty treat for humans, but what should you do if your dog ate some? Can dogs eat chocolate and are the effects of eating it toxic? This blog post will answer these questions and more.
Theobromine is a chemical found in chocolate that can be poisonous to dogs. Dogs usually exhibit symptoms within 4 to 24 hours of eating, but immediate assessment and treatment may still be needed depending on your dog’s response.
Harmful ingredients in chocolates for dogs – An overview
Dogs are allergic to quite a few consumable products. Some are allergic to corn, wheat, and its various products while others to poultry by-products. It is the responsibility of the parent to identify allergic ingredients before providing meals to their pets.
Chocolates are also harmful to them, and if consumed in high doses at one go, they may cause serious health issues. Different brands of chocolates have different quantities of their ingredients.
- One of the primary ingredients is cocoa powder, which is the most toxic one.
- Besides cocoa, it also contains bromine, which increases the heartbeat in them and expands the blood vessels. It does not flush out of the body after digestion, as in humans. In fact, it takes a long time to break down in dogs and thus stay in the stomach for a long time.
- Caffeine-containing products stimulate the nervous system suddenly, and it starts misfunctioning.
Identification of toxicity
As soon as you realize about consuming chocolate by your pet, immediately call up the veterinary doctor. Since the ingredients stay in the digestive tract for a long duration, you may notice any symptoms only after around 6 to 12 hours. The most common changes that you will notice are as follows:
Deterioration of health:
Among general signs, either vomiting or diarrhea is usual. You may also encounter a combination of both along with nausea.
Loss of appetite:
Toxicity causes stomach disorders, which also leads to loss of appetite. Your pet, who is fond of eating and never misses his time serving his meal, may suddenly not want to eat at all.
Look out for your pet for how many times he is using the bathroom. Chocolate consumption often increases the rate of urine discharge. If your dog is well-trained, he will use the bathroom. Or else be prepared for sudden discharge in the room itself.
Tremors and seizures:
Within 12 hours or at times by the next 72 hours, your pet may also suffer from sudden tremors and seizures due to the disbalance of the nervous system’s functioning.
Stress in the body and stomach infection will also change your well-behaved pet’s behavior. You may notice aggression or destructive chewing. Some pets also bark continuously in order to try relieving the abnormality in the body.
Prompt action by pet parents- A necessity
Once you identify the symptoms, you can no longer waste your time and watch for further signs. It would help if you took immediate action to minimize the health hazards. Following instant steps will help you relieve the distress:
Calculation of quantity:
Check out for the vessel size or the pack of chocolate for its quantity. You must be aware of your dog’s weight also. Also, note its type and get your phone for instant calculation in the readily available applications or on the internet. The toxicity meter will give you the quantity consumed per kilogram as per the dog’s weight. Unit higher than 40-50 mg/kg causes cardiac issues and higher than that will have risks of seizures.
Call for a doctor:
- Immediately take your pet to the veterinary and seek a doctor’s advice. His actions will depend on the seriousness of the health condition.
- Induce vomiting if not started yet by feeding him activated charcoal, promoting the discharge of toxins from the body.
- Injecting of antibiotics and other medications, in case of mild symptoms.
- In severe conditions, the doctor may prescribe initiating IV fluids and medical observation. Fluids will revive him from dehydration due to excessive urination.
Do not panic:
The most crucial action that you must take is to calm yourself down. Since you will have to reach out to a doctor or visit a clinic, panicking at this moment will not help. Relax yourself down and ask for an ambulance or a cab and carry your dog till the vehicle. Even if he is under a mild symptomatic position, his condition may worsen. So do not let him walk by himself. He may hurt himself by sudden fall.
Preventive measures- A fundamental compulsion
To avoid such situations, avoid feeding your pet any products which have chocolate content in it. Some mandatory steps will ensure that he stays in good health and prevent serious issues related to toxicity.
Avoid all chocolate:
Every kind of chocolate is harmful to your pet dog. If you think that a small amount of chocolate cookie or a single piece of a chocolate bar will not harm your pet, you are mistaken. Even if there may not be severe clinical symptoms, once you provide the taste of chocolate, he will want it every time.
Thus, avoid all related chocolate products like:
- Milk chocolate bars
- Dark chocolate
- Dry chocolate powder
- Caffeine products
- Chocolate milkshake and ice-cream
- Cakes and cookies of the same flavor, to name a few.
Out of reach:
It is evident that you will have some chocolates or cocoa products at home. As a pet parent, you don’t need to avoid purchasing those. But keeping it out of reach of your pet dog is necessary. Please do not keep it in those places where he can reach easily.
- You may keep them in closed containers or inside cabinets.
- Freezing your chocolates will not only keep them fresh but will also prevent your pet from eating it as he won’t be able to open a freezer.
- High shelves are not within reach of your pet, even if you possess a large breed. Keep your treats on those to prevent them from eating.
- Most importantly, during holidays and functions, remember to keep a close watch on your pet. Also, inform guests not to feed your pet any chocolate products. It will keep him in good health, and avoid any mishap.
Start training your pet from a young age onwards. Along with others, command training is also a must. Start with simple commands like fetch, run, sit, and stop. Since dogs are always looking forward to pleasing their parents, they are receptive to given commands. Use it when you feel necessary, like in an incident when you notice he is reaching to fetch a bar of chocolate kept within the sight.
If you have your kids at home, they will indeed have an inclination towards chocolates and their various other recipes. With obedience training, your pet will know when to stay away from others. Dogs are obedient enough to listen to orders.
Avoid chocolate treats:
Treats are a common item given to pets to accomplish a task or be on their best behavior. Instead of providing them with chocolate treats, give them something else that is nutritious and harmless like biscuits, sticks, etc.
Along with a healthy and balanced meal, make sure that your pet receives a sufficient quantity of food as per his requirements. Hunger makes them look for other food items. You may also switch to dog food, which is in the form of kibbles or baked. They are delicious, as well as full of nutrients.
To avoid boredom, which often makes them want food or treats like chocolates, distracts them immediately. Please provide them with dog toys in the form of puzzles, which will keep them engaged. You may also go for outdoor games and indulge him in fetching a ball or a tug-of-war.
If you notice any sort of destructive behavior or aggression for not providing them with treats, it is also important to correct them. Instead of punishing them, use a dog crate for minimizing the same.
Thus, as a pet parent, be very careful about the food and treats you provide. Check the ingredients on each food item’s pack and ensure it does not contain any toxic items.
However, it is also necessary to train children at home to not lure their pets with chocolates. They will look for the same product if they get the taste of it. Instead, keep dog food or vet-proven treats handy for instant snacks.
Look out for any abnormal behavior in your pet and keep chocolates out of reach to prevent serious health issues.