It’s a given fact that we all love chocolates. It is natural tendency to share what we love with our loved ones, be it our family, friends or even our pets. Dogs are one of the most common pets we have around us. In fact, some of us treat them like our family member, feeding them and sharing our food with them. Dogs love chocolates, not only the taste but its scent too. Unlike cats that cannot sense the sweetness in a food, dogs can and they eventually develop an attraction to anything they find delicious (just like us humans). But, did you know that feeding these yummy confections to your loved pets can complicate their health or even worse, lead to their death?
Ask any Vets and they can tell you that chocolate poisoning is one of the most common cases of canine poisoning. Since chocolates are something almost every other house has lying around in it, in kitchens, dining tables, cupboards, refrigerators, etc., dogs easily fall prey to it even without the knowledge of its owners. The problem is magnified because anything even remotely containing some chocolate in it like an ice cream, a biscuit, a cookie or a cake can be lethal to a dog’s system even if it consumes a very small amount of it.
When can I know something is wrong?
The early symptoms can be vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness and hyperactivity along with frequent urination. A few advanced symptoms can be arrhythmia and muscle twitching. If such symptoms in your dog are still ignored without taking it to a doctor, it can lead to hyperthermia, high blood pressure, rapid increase in heart rate, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and continuous seizures. Ultimately, it would lead to coma and finally death.
Why is chocolate a dog poison?
It turns out that the poisoning occurs due to the presence of a naturally occurring substance, Theobromine that is found in almost every chocolate. Theobromine is actually very similar to caffeine. This is found in the coca bean plant called Theobroma cocoa. The bean from this plant is used to make chocolate. Theobromine is found more in dark chocolates. It can be said that the darker the chocolate, more the Theobromine in it. Now comes the complication-dogs love dark chocolate more than us. Milk chocolate is found to be the least dangerous type of chocolate. Theobromine affects the central nervous system and the respiratory system of the dog ultimately affecting the heart of the dog and leading to epileptic seizures. Theobromine is ingested slowly by the digestive system of a dog. So, the dangerous substance stays for longer inside the system and the effects last longer.
How can I treat my dog once I realize it has been poisoned?
Always keep an emergency first aid kit consisting of an activated charcoal substance, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or syrup of ipecac. These substances would also be helpful in tackling many other varieties of plant and chemical toxins.
Activated charcoal is available in the form of tablets, powder or in liquid form. The charcoal actually prevents the poison from being processed by the digestion system and prevents the poison from being absorbed into pet’s blood stream. The charcoal needs to be administered at the earliest since it can serve to deactivate the ill-effects of the poison at the earliest.
But, before you administer the charcoal, you must induce vomiting for which Hydrogen Peroxide comes in handy. Keep giving a dosage of Hydrogen Peroxide every fifteen minutes till your dog vomits.
Be highly vigilant with your dog when you prepare chocolate at home or during any parties/birthdays since it is during these times that chocolates are found more often and in large quantities. If you store chocolates in cupboards or refrigerators, be sure to lock them up.
Learn to refuse feeding chocolate in any form to your dog and be strict with it in this matter. They will eventually learn to ignore the scent and the taste of chocolate as something that cannot and should not be had.
It is not only dogs but cats can also get poisoned by Theobromine. Since cats do not eat chocolates in large quantities and do not have chocolates often, chocolate poisoning in cats is not seen as a comparatively big issue.
How much Theobromine is dangerous?
The amount of Theobromine that can cause poisoning depends on the body weight of the creature. So, for smaller dogs/cats, even small amounts of caffeine or Theobromine can cause deterioration of their health. While, a bigger cat/dog can resist small amounts of chocolate (theobromine), it can still fall prey to large amounts of the same.
Although chocolates have been found to have ill effects on our pets, it has no such effects on humans since our bodily systems are different from those of our pets. Many inexperienced dog owners are still unaware of the potential ill effects of chocolates on dogs and cats. We request you please share this useful piece of information with your near and dear ones, your neighbours, classmates, colleagues and everyone else you know and also on social media in order to spread this message.