I don’t know about you, but I tend to over-indulge in chocolate at Easter, but apart from feeling guilty about eating so much, thankfully I don’t suffer any long term consequences. Unfortunately the same may not be true for your dog if he gets stuck into your Easter eggs. [tag-tec] Dog poisoning [/tag-tec] from the ingestion chocolate accounts for many trips to the vet this time of year.
Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine – a natural stimulant found in cocoa beans. Dogs love the flavor of theobromine and even the tiniest taste of chocolate will leave them craving for more, but in large doses chocolate can be fatal.
So how much chocolate is too much? If your dog happens to eat one or two M&Ms then you don’t need to dash off to the vet, but the taste will leave him addicted to chocolate and he’ll take every opportunity to have another taste in the future.
Chocolate toxicity will depend on the type and amount of chocolate eaten, the weight of your dog as well as his age and general health.
White chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine and baking chocolate the most. As a rule of thumb:
- White chocolate – signs of toxicity can occur when 45 ounces per pound of body weight is eaten; so a 10 pound dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier would need to eat approximately 28 pounds of white chocolate before the chocolate was toxic!
- Milk Chocolate – signs of toxicity can occur when 1 ounce per pound of body weight is eaten, so our 10 pound Yorkshire Terrier would only need to eat half a pound of chocolate before he became ill.
- Sweet Cocoa (includes instant cocoa) – only one third of an ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight is needed before symptoms of toxicity would show. Using the Yorkshire Terrier as an example again, that’s just three ounces, or an average chocolate bar.
- Baking Chocolate – this has the highest incidence of theobromine and just one tenth of an ounce per pound of body weight is enough to be toxic. Our Yorkshire Terrier would be showing signs of poisoning if he ate just one ounce of baking chocolate.
Theobromine affects the central nervous system and when taken in toxic amounts can lead to the following symptoms – hyper activity, restlessness, panting, increased urination, diarrhoea and, in extreme cases, seizures.
If you suspect your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate then contact your vet immediately. Treatment will usually involve fluid replacement, sedatives and medication to reduce heart rate and blood pressure if the poisoning is severe. Thankfully, most dogs recover within 48 hours of treatment.
So please keep your dog safe this Easter and don’t let him have the taste of chocolate, it could be a fatal mistake.