CHOCOLATE TOXICITY IN DOGS
With Easter just around the corner many of us indulge in chocolate, probably more so than any other time of year. Although it may be tempting to share this delicious treat with your pet, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of chocolate to dogs, and to a lesser extent cats and other pets.
Here at The Vet Shed, we thought it was a good time to remind dog owners of the dangers of chocolate to dogs.
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?
Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree and contains a compound known as Theobromine. Theobromine has a number of effects on the body.
We as humans can clear the Theobromine quickly from our systems however our canine friends metabolise this substance a lot slower than we do.
Therefore this toxic substance is going to stay in their bloodstream a lot longer and has more time to trigger toxic effects.
It affects the heart, central nervous system and the kidneys. It raises blood pressure, has diuretic effects and in large enough doses can cause nausea and vomiting.
How much chocolate is toxic to my dog?
The amount of chocolate that is toxic to your dog depends on several factors:
1. Size of the dog
For example, a 60g block of dark chocolate could be lethal to a 7kg dog while a 60g block of milk chocolate will probably only cause a digestive upset.
2. The type of chocolate (% of cocoa solids)
The darker and more bitter the chocolate the more toxic it is.
3. Individual variations in Theobromine metabolism in each dog.
Just like alcohol is metabolised differently in individuals, so to is Theobromine in dogs.
So an important rule of thumb is: Don’t give your dog chocolate at all!
The toxic dose for Theobromine is reported as 100-150mg per kg body weight, however occasionally problems are observed at doses as low as 20mg/kg. What this means in a practical sense, using 100mg/kg as a guide this equates to:
- approximately 60 grams of milk chocolate per kg bodyweight
- approximately 20 grams of semi-sweet chocolate per kg body weight
- approximately 7 grams per kg body weight for baker's chocolate per kg body weight
What are the symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity?
Symptoms can be seen as early as 4 hours after ingestion up to 24 hours.
What do I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?
If you suspect your dog has eaten some chocolate contact your vet immediately. If you have the chocolate wrapper show this to your vet as it can help them calculate if the amount your dog has ingested and if this is toxic and it can also assist them in formulating a treatment plan.
What treatment is given to my dog?
As there is no anti-toxin for Theobromine, the only treatment option is supportive therapy.
If a dog presents to the veterinarian within 4 hours of ingestion, then vomiting will be induced. If treatment occurs after this it may involve giving activated charcoal to absorb the Theobromine. Other treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms but could include hospitalisation, intravenous fluids and close monitoring of the heart and medication to control seizures.
So this Easter (and at all times during the year) remember to keep access to all chocolate off limits to your pets. If you are having Easter egg hunts in the backyard – keep your dog away from this area and prevent access to any chocolate in your house.
DOG TREATS FOR EASTER
Why not make up a basket of homemade dog treats so your dog can enjoy Easter as much as you do!
Our four legged friends at The Vet Shed have taste tested some yummy homemade dog treats and given them a five out of five paw rating. This is one of their favourites! Have fun making your dog these goodies this Easter.
Peanut butter & banana cookies
- 1 egg
- 1 mashed banana
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter* (low sodium is a healthier choice)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 ½ cup wholemeal flour
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing (optional)
- Preheat oven to 148◦C (300ºF)
- Lightly beat the egg then mix in the peanut butter, mashed banana and honey. Blend thoroughly. Add the flour a little at a time, until mixture is evenly combined.
- Turn out the dough on a floured board and roll until ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, a biscuit cutter or the rim side of a glass, cut the dough into desired shape. Brush tops with egg white (optional).
- Place cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet or line the baking tray with baking paper.
- Bake cookies for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. (Cook time will vary based on size of your cookie. Bake less for smaller cookies, more for larger cookies.)
- Cool cookies on a wire rack. Leaving them out overnight will produce a crunchier cookie. Storing them in a sealed container will keep the cookies softer.
WATCH YOUR DOG DROOL IN ANTICIPATION!
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