In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can potentially kill your dog. Chocolate contains a toxic component called theobromine that dogs are not able to process quickly, allowing time for dangerous levels to build up in their system.
While there are a lot of factors that go into how your dog will be affected by chocolate - like his size, the amount of chocolate, and the type of chocolate - if you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate, take him to the dog-tor immediately!
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Signs That Your Pooch May Have Eaten Chocolate
For starters, keep an eye out for crumbs all over the floor, wrappers, and missing chocolate - that's your first hint.
Some pups will show symptoms as well, so keep an eye out for digestive irregularities like vomiting, diarrhea, and loose stool. Other dogs might be excessively thirsty and unable to stop drinking water. Some may experience other symptoms like muscle rigidity, agitation, hyperactive behavior, excessive panting, pacing, seizures, and other odd behaviors.
- Severe hyperactivity
- Muscle rigidity
- Heart attack
- Internal bleeding
- Irregular heartbeat
Chocolate's Harmful Effects on Dogs
In many case studies throughout history, dog's have been proven to be unable to digest a chemical in chocolate called theobromine. According to vets, the caffeine in chocolate is also harmful to pups. In various case studies throughout the past few decades, vets explain that canines who eat chocolate are at risk of dying because of both the alkaline theobromine and the stimulent caffeine.
According to a case study that examined a 4-year-old Labrador who had eaten Easter chocolates, the dog vomited a small amount of brown liquid, was visibly shaking, and was restless with rigid muscles. Vets found that these were all symptoms of chocolate toxicity and were able to diagnose and remedy the problem, all while proving that chocolate is a toxic substance for pups.
The Science of Chocolate Toxicity
The two most troublesome, and toxic, ingredients in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. The toxic components are too hard for dogs to metabolize and digest, making it a slow process that allows time for toxic levels to build up in their systems.
Additionally, caffeine is a stimulant that could make your dog's heart race and give him seizures.
Both the size of your dog and the type of chocolate (and the amount) matter. Different kinds of chocolate contain different kinds of and amounts of theobromine. A giant dog can handle a touch of chocolate, but tiny dogs are more susceptible to poisoning from small amounts of chocolate. All in all, make sure you take your pup to the vet, or give them a call if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.
How to Train Yourself to Keep Chocolate From Your Dog
For example, make sure you're always putting chocolate away from your dog's reach - keep this especially in mind around holidays when the treats are a-plenty.
You can also teach your dog the command "leave it." If he accidentally does get some chocolate in his mouth, you can advise him to drop it and leave it alone, something that's been proven to save dogs' lives.
Another helpful training tip is to crate train your pup to ensure that he doesn't get into anything harmful while you're away.
How to React if Your Dog Has Eaten Chocolate
Consult with vet about peroxide and charcoal methods
Keep an eye on your dog
If advised by your vet, induce vomiting
Rush your dog to the vet
Call your vet immediately to see what you can do