Have you ever caught your dog sneaking food leftovers out of your counters? Chances are you’re familiar with this behavior. Dogs are real foodies! And their innocent-puppy-eyes trick seems to be working in their favor most often than not. Or… is it really in their favor? Not all human foods are healthy for your dog. Vets recommend you to resist sharing meal leftovers with your furry companions, especially when it comes to sweets. Chocolate, for example, is poisonous to dogs. Let’s find out why dogs can’t eat chocolate and what can you do if such accidents were to happen.
The Root of the Behavior
While chocolate may not be a dangerous snack for other pets, it’s particularly toxic for dogs. Why? Chocolate contains two dangerous substances for canines: theobromine and caffeine. They can have a stimulating effect on your dog’s nervous system. But the real danger consists in your their inability to metabolize theobromine. This slow metabolization can cause a series of acute symptoms you should look out for. Some of the signs of chocolate poisoning in your dog can include restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching or shakiness, increased urination, excessive panting, diarrhea and/or vomiting, excessive thirst, seizures, arrhythmia or abnormal heart rate, and may even be fatal in severe cases. These symptoms can be visible anywhere between 6 to 12 hours after your dog has ingested the toxic substance, and can last up to 72 hours. Luckily, not all types of chocolate are equally toxic for your beloved canine. The toxicity varies depending on a few factors, such as the type of chocolate your dog ingested (white, dark or milk chocolate), the size of your dog, and if your dog has any pre-existing health problems. The level of chocolate toxicity depends on the amount of theobromine it contains. Here’s a list of all types of chocolate sorted out by their toxicity levels. Cocoa powder, unsweetened baker’s chocolate, semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. The first four are the most toxic, as they contain the highest levels of theobromine. Therefore, even home-baked goods containing cocoa powder are dangerous for your dog. Milk and white chocolate are not as toxic, but they are definitely dangerous. The bottom line is, never give your dog any type of chocolate or chocolate home baked goodies. In case you suspect your dog may have ingested any kind of chocolate, look out for the symptoms mentioned above and call your vet immediately.
Encouraging the Behavior
Before you get all terrified about your dog’s safety, there are a few things you can do to prevent your dog from sneaking chocolate when you’re not paying attention: First of all, you should hide it and make sure your dog can’t reach it. Find a safe place for all your chocolate items, including cocoa powder, chocolate, hot chocolate or cake mixes, preferably in a pantry on a higher shelf where you’re certain your greedy furry friend can’t reach. Carefully instruct everyone in your house not to leave any chocolaty items out on the countertops or in places easily accessible for your dog, especially during the holidays. Also, train your dog the “leave it” command. It can literally their save life! The “leave it” command is probably one of the most efficient in preventing dogs from all kinds of dangers due to hazardous substance ingestion. If your dog isn’t trained yet, seek help from your veterinarian or dog trainer. Crate training can also help you keep your dog safe whenever you can’t be there to supervise them. These are just some of the things you can do to keep your doggie safe and sound. Here’s a friendly piece of advice from one dog owner to another: try to keep a healthy balance of not worrying too much while being vigilant in recognizing chocolate poisoning symptoms just in case of accidents.
Other Solutions and Considerations
So, if you still want to treat your doggy with home baked goodies, do you have any healthy options? Yes, you do! There are many types of home baked dog treats you can find online such as homemade peanut butter bacon dog treats and peanut butter and banana dog ice cream recipes. Look them up and try some of them out to see which one your pet enjoys the most. In addition, you should consult with your veterinary provider if you know your dog has any preexisting conditions or food allergies. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry!
Dogs are huge foodies, which is why expecting them to hold back when they see something yummy on your countertop isn’t a realistic expectation. The best way to keep your dog safe is to remove any chocolaty temptation out of your canine friend’s sight. Knowing the symptoms of chocolate poisoning can save your dog’s life in case accidents were to happen. Call your vet as soon as you think your dog might be in danger.