Chocolate Season is Upon Us
Evidently there IS a “Chocolate Season” and Halloween is where it begins. Several holidays involve chocolate. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, are holidays when we commonly give, receive, or simply have candy dishes filled with chocolate. As Halloween approaches, veterinarians everywhere prepare for the start of “Chocolate Season.” Chocolate is in such abundant supply some dogs can’t resist the temptation and may find or steal chocolate.
Eating a piece of chocolate does not mean your pet is in a life-threatening situation. Three factors will determine whether a dog will get ill or not. The type of chocolate eaten, the amount consumed, and the weight of your dog all play a factor. Different varieties of chocolate contain different amounts of cocoa and theobromine, the toxic ingredient in chocolate. Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa, so a dog will need to eat less of it to cause problems. A large dog and a small dog can eat the same amount of chocolate however; the small dog is more likely to become ill.
As the toxins are processed, multiple body systems are affected. Vomiting and diarrhea are generally the first symptoms, often occurring 2-4 hours after ingestion. In advanced stages a dog may be stiff, hyperactive, experience seizures, and have over exaggerated responses. Internally a dog can experience an increase in respiratory and heart rates, and low blood pressure. Toxic doses without treatment can lead to cardiac failure, coma, even death.
If your dog ingests chocolate you should call your veterinarian, an animal emergency hospital, or Animal Poison Control right away. Be ready with your dog’s weight, type of chocolate ingested (baker’s, dark, or milk), and amount of chocolate eaten. If you do not know the amount your dog ate, we commonly round up the amount of the full size package for safer calculation. We would approximate higher for things such as an Easter bunny partially eaten by child when the dog gets a hold of the rest of the bunny. Treatment of chocolate ingestion is based upon the dose eaten by the dog and the symptoms shown. Advanced toxicity cases require hospitalization for IV fluids, injections, and blood work.
The most common scenarios of dogs getting into chocolate is from counters, sniffing out a child’s stash of candy in their room, and eating out of the garbage. Candy dishes should always be on high tables beyond the dog’s reach. Talk to children about where to put their candy away. Under the bed maybe a safe place to hide candy from a sibling, but it’s not safe from the family dog.
Veterinary General is located in Shelby Township, Michigan. We offer traditional and alternative therapies such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbals, and Cold Laser Therapy. More information can be found at www.veterinarygeneral.com.