We all like a bit of chocolate – especially at Christmas, however did you know that you shouldn’t feed it to your dog?
For the majority of the year our secret chocolate stash is safely kept in kitchen cupboards or the fridge – generally out of a dog’s reach, but at Christmas it’s more likely to be found hanging on walls in children’s bedrooms in the form of advent calendars, covered in coloured foil hanging off the Christmas tree or wrapped up as presents underneath it.
So what is it about chocolate that is so bad?
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is poisonous (we’ll cover why humans can get away with it in a bit….). The darker the chocolate – the more theobromine present in it. When dogs ingest too much of this substance it can cause heart problems, diarrhoea, vomiting, respiratory problems and could even cause death in smaller dogs.
How much is too much?
Well we need to take into account the size of the dog and the darkness of the chocolate, so if your St Bernard has eaten 2 small white chocolate snowmen then the chances are that he won’t experience any problems – however – if your Chihuahua has eaten 2 dark chocolate solid tree decorations you need to be ringing your vet! As a general rule a typical 20 kg (44 lb) dog (sort of Springer spaniel sized) could experience problems after eating less than 240 g (8.5 oz) of dark chocolate (Green and Black bars are 100g), but won’t necessarily experience any problems unless it eats at least 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) of milk chocolate (Cadburys advent calendars contain approx 100g of chocolate).
What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?
If you think that your dog may have eaten chocolate it’s always best to seek medical advice from a vet. They will need to know the approximate size and weight of your dog – what type of chocolate they may have eaten and also it’s really important for the vet to know how long ago the dog ate it. Tell your vet if there has been any heightened activity with your dog – including the need to urinate more often as well as sickness and diarrhoea.
So how come we can eat it?
The reason that we can eat chocolate without causing us too many side effects (other than expanding waistlines) is that our bodies metabolize theobromine through our system at a much faster rate than dogs do (the half life of theobromine in humans is approx 7.5 hours – in dogs it’s approx 17.5 hours) so unlike dogs it doesn’t build up to a dangerous level in our bodies. So although it is poisonous to us too – it’s not in our bodies long enough to cause us the same problems that it causes dogs.
So make sure that chocolate is safely out of reach!
Next time ……Teaching your dog to walk on a loose lead.