As a dog owner, you are responsible for taking care of it, including watching everything it eats.
That means knowing what is dangerous and safe for the dog.
One of those things that your dog needs to stay away from is chocolate.
As a dog owner, that does not mean you need to stay away from your chocolate cookies, but it also means you have to be careful.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For Your Dog?
Even though chocolate ingestion is rarely fatal, it can result in severe illness.
The reason it is bad for your dog is that it contains a chemical called theobromine and caffeine.
Theobromine is the major toxin in chocolate and caffeine as well.
Both of these chemicals are used medicinally as a heart stimulant, diuretic, muscle relaxant, and blood dilator.
And while humans metabolize this chemical easily, dogs cannot.
This causes other compounds to build up in the dog’s system, causing clinical symptoms associated with chocolate poisoning.
How Much Chocolate Is Poisonous To a Dog
The amount of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate. However, darker chocolate contains a higher number of toxic ingredients.
Basically, the darker the chocolate, the more danger it poses to a dog.
Gourmet dark chocolate and baked chocolate are highly concentrated, containing about 130 to 450 mg of theobromine in an ounce.
The usual milk chocolate is about 44 to 58 mg/ounce. On the other hand, white chocolate rarely causes poisoning as it contains about 0.25 mg/ounce.
Apart from the amount ingested, the size of a dog is also a factor.
For instance, when a small breed of dog ingests the same amount of chocolate as a bigger dog, the smaller dog is likely to have severe effects.
Also, note that even if your dogs eat a tiny amount of chocolate, it is not a toxic concern, but they can still become ill due to the sugar and fat in the chocolate.
This can lead to pancreatitis, especially if a dog has a sensitive stomach.
To create a clear picture, a dog weighing about 50 pounds will only need to ingest about 9 ounces of milk chocolate or an ounce of baking chocolate for it to show signs and symptoms of poisoning.
Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs
Signs of chocolate poisoning vary depending on the amount ingested and the size of the dog.
However, some of them include:
- Increased thirst
- Excessive urination
- Racing heart rate
- Panting and restlessness
- Muscle tremors
- Internal bleeding
Complications such as aspiration pneumonia as a result of excessive vomiting can make the prognosis worse.
Some of these signs can take even a few hours to develop and last for a few days.
This means that the theobromine is still in the dog’s system.
Since theobromine can be re-absorbed from the bladder, intravenous fluids and a few walks to encourage urination are recommended.
What to Do When You realize your Dog has Eaten a Chocolate Chip Cookie
Take the packaging of the chocolate chips and read the weight of the product plus the cocoa content.
This will help the vet calculate the amount of toxic dose that has been consumed.
The next step is contacting your vet.
They will want to know how much your dog weighs, the type of chocolate consumed, the amount consumed, and other ingredients in the cookie.
The vet will then calculate the probability of toxic effects and make recommendations.
If the dog has only consumed a low amount, then there is no need for treatment.
However, when the dose is significant, the vet will recommend you visit the clinic for immediate treatment.
Treatment For Chocolate Poisoning
The treatment applied will depend on the amount and type of chocolate eaten.
Early treatment includes decontamination.
This can be done by inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal, which prevents theobromine from being absorbed into the body.
Treatment with activated charcoal may have to be repeated several times to minimize reabsorption and recirculation of theobromine.
The vet is also likely to provide supportive treatment, including intravenous fluids to stabilize the dog and encourage excretion of theobromine.
Finally, the vet may give you medication to treat restlessness, among other symptoms.
Steps to Take to Ensure Your Dog Does Not Eat a Chocolate Chip Cookie
Even though small amounts of chocolate may not cause any issues with bigger dogs, still avoid giving your dog chocolate chip cookies as treats.
Instead, opt for treats containing carob as a substitute for chocolate.
Carob resembles chocolate, and often, the two get confused.
Since carob lacks theobromine and caffeine, it is safe for your dog, but it is better to talk to a vet first.
Other things you can do to prevent your dog from eating a chocolate chip cookie include;
- Putting it away: Ensure that all chocolate-related products are stored where a dog cannot reach, such as a closed-door pantry or a high shelf. If you have kids or guests that you are serving chocolate chip cookies, remind them to ensure that the cookies are away from the dog’s reach.
- Train the dog: Use the command ‘leave it’ to prevent the dog from eating something, whether it has fallen on the ground or is within reach. Dogs are easy to train, and in a short time, they will understand.
- Crate train the dog: Another easy way to ensure that the dog does not eat anything harmful, especially when you are away, is by crate training him. Find a strong crate that is big enough for the dog to stand and turn comfortably. You can then find a safe place where the dog will retreat when you cannot watch over it, or it wants to be alone. You can then add some toys, treats, and a blanket so that the dog feels like the crate is its personal space.
Chocolate chip cookies may be a delicious treat for you, but they are not safe for your dog.
Therefore, it is crucial to call your vet as soon as you notice that your dog has eaten it.
They are going to guide you on what to do next depending on the amount eaten.
Even though most cases of chocolate ingestion do not require a vet, when it is treated earlier, the outcome is likely to be good.