Halloween is a time for tricks and treats, and the latter usually involve some sort of candy or chocolate. Whilst this might be a delicious prospect for your little costumed visitors, both are actually toxic to pets, including your dog.
Unfortunately, cases of chocolate poisoning are more common around annual holidays, including Halloween, due to abundance of sweet treats being handed out and consumed.
Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?
Even if you aren’t an experienced dog owner, you may well be aware that our canine friends should never eat human forms of chocolate. Chocolate may be a real treat for us, but the bad news is that it is anything but for your furbaby. In fact, chocolate is so toxic to dogs that even a small amount could make your furbaby so sick that his life is at risk.
The reason for this is that chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. This compound is very similar to caffeine, which is also toxic to many animals including dogs. This is because theobromine acts as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and muscle relaxant.
One of the main problems with theobromine consumption is that our canines metabolize it much more slowly than we do, meaning your dog is much more sensitive to theobromine than you are. This is what makes a relatively small amount poisonous to your dog. In addition, the more cocoa in your chocolate, the more theobromine will be present, with dark baking chocolate being the most dangerous of all.
- White chocolate contains approximately 0.01mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate.
- Milk chocolate contains approximately 2.4mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate.
- Dark chocolate contains approximately 5.5mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate.
- Cooking/baking chocolate contains approximately 16mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate.
How much chocolate can be dog eat before he is sick?
The effects of any poison are usually dependent on the size of the creature that has consumed it and the strength of the toxic substance. So, for example, a chihuahua might only need to eat a few squares of dark chocolate for the situation to become life-threatening, while a Labrador could possibly consume significantly more before becoming unwell.
Ultimately, if you are a conscientious and caring pet owner, you should ensure that your canine pal has absolutely no access to chocolate at all to be on the safe side.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning
If your dog has eaten some Halloween chocolates, you will need to get him to the vet as soon as possible. Signs of chocolate poisoning include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Uncoordinated movements
- Increased heart rate
- Irregular heart rhythm
Once you arrive at your vet, treatments may include inducing vomiting to remove the chocolate from his stomach, and medications to prevent the absorption of theobromine into your dog’s body. In some cases, your vet may also recommend some supportive therapies such as intravenous fluids until the effects of the chocolate poisoning have abated.
What about chocolate dog treats? How are these different?
Many owners become confused about chocolate poisoning thanks to there being a variety of chocolate treats aimed specifically at animals on the market. However, these do not contain theobromine. They are actually made with carob, which is a chocolate substitute and just as delicious for your furry friend.
You should keep human chocolate well away from your dog all year around, but at Halloween make sure that your little visitors also know that they shouldn’t share with your furry pal. If you would like more support on what to do to keep your dog safe this Halloween, please don’t hesitate to contact our team here at Mobley Veterinary Clinic, Nashville, TN.