Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate
We all know that chocolate is delicious and that most of us can’t get enough of it. But when it comes to our furry friends, why can’t dogs eat chocolate? While it may bring us humans immense joy, chocolate can be extremely toxic for our four-legged friends. In this article, we explore why chocolate is so dangerous for dogs, the symptoms of chocolate toxicity, and what steps pet owners should take if their pet has ingested chocolate.
What Makes Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?
Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, most commonly theobromine, which is the active ingredient that makes chocolate poisonous to dogs. Theobromine is a member of the xanthine family, a group of alkaloids that also includes caffeine. Dogs lack the liver enzyme that can break down theobromine, so they cannot metabolize it quickly enough. As a result, theobromine can build up in the body and cause serious health issues.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity
Chocolate toxicity occurs when dogs ingest large amounts of chocolate, typically in the form of cocoa powder, darker Chocolate, and baking chocolate. The amount of Chocolate that is toxic depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate consumed. In addition to the obvious tummy troubles such as vomiting and diarrhea, symptoms of chocolate toxicity can include:
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Excessive panting or drooling
• Elevated heart rate
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Muscle tremors or twitching
How Much Chocolate is Too Much?
The amount of chocolate that can be toxic for a dog depends on the size of the dog, the type of chocolate, and the amount consumed. All types of chocolate contain theobromine and caffeine, and can be toxic, however, the amount of theobromine in different types of chocolate vary. Baking chocolate contains the highest amount of theobromine, followed by dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate contains the least amount. Generally speaking, an ounce of baking chocolate can be toxic even for large dogs, whereas an ounce of milk chocolate may be non-toxic for smaller dogs.
Treatment for Chocolate Toxicity
If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, contact your vet right away. The treatment for Chocolate toxicity usually involves inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to absorb any remaining chocolate in the stomach. Your vet may also administer a medication called intravenous dextrose to prevent low blood sugar, and a diuretic to promote urination and excretion of theobromine in the urine. In severe cases, where the heart rate is elevated or there are seizures, your vet may do an ECG to monitor the heart rate and administer drugs to control heart rate and seizures.
Prevention is Always Better Than Treatment
One of the best ways to avoid chocolate toxicity in pets is to keep chocolate out of reach of your pet. Make sure your pet does not have access to any foods or snacks that contain chocolate, and do not feed your pet any foods that may contain chocolate as an ingredient. Store chocolate and all other potentially toxic food and snacks so that your pet cannot get to them. Finally, keep human medications and supplements that may contain chocolate away from pets as well.
Theobromine and other substances present in chocolate can be toxic to dogs and can cause a number of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms. Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, agitation, increased thirst, increased urination, seizures, elevated heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. Pet owners should keep chocolate and other potentially toxic foods, medications, and snacks away from their pets and contact their vet right away if they suspect their pet has ingested chocolate. Prevention is always the best approach with chocolate toxicity, so make sure to keep your furry friends safe and chocolate-free!