Most of us have that secret spot of emergency chocolate, for those extra hard days. Unfortunately, the chocolate stash can be very dangerous for our pets if they find it.
The question we end up asking ourselves is how much is too much chocolate, and what should I do if my dog eats chocolate?
How much is safe?
As long as you know how much was eaten and what sort of chocolate it is, it is relatively easy to work out if your pet is in danger.
The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous, is the general rule.
Dark, bitter baking chocolate contains more toxins than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is not as toxic as dark chocolate, and white chocolate contains very little of theobromine, which is the concerning chemical found in chocolate.
Other factors that may impact your pet include whether there were any other ingredients such as caffeine, sultanas, macadamias, and xylitol (also toxic to pets and used as an artificial sweetener).
Many pets are very sensitive to rich and fatty foods and will get a nasty bout of pancreatitis or gastroenteritis from overindulging. Also, pets that gobble the whole lot so quickly that they eat wrappers, foil and plastic are more susceptible to a foreign body problem as well.
What Does Chocolate Do to Dogs?
Chocolate contains theobromine which is a methylxanthine that stimulates the heart and nervous system while relaxing smooth muscle. The low-grade signs of poisoning often include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, restlessness, hyperactivity, and increased heart rate.
At higher doses, neurological signs such as tremors, seizures, coma, and death can occur. Often it takes a few hours to develop the dangerous symptoms and as theobromine has a long half-life it can take a few days for pets to improve even with treatment.
What Should I Do?
If you have a reason to suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, get them to the vet immediately.
If there is a chance that the chocolate is still in the stomach, including vomiting quickly is cheap, effective and safe. Usually, if the consumption was within an hour, inducing vomiting solves the problem. Insider tip: vets don’t mind making chocolate-eaters vomit – it smells so much nicer than the usual vomit!