It may seem widely know that chocolate can be toxic for dogs, but last year alone, there were over 1,100 calls to animal poison control hotlines concerning pets’ (mostly dogs) consumption of chocolate. The Family Puppy, in Metro Detroit, is offering tips to hopefully avert a pet emergency this Easter, a big chocolate holiday.
“Of course keeping chocolate off the floor, out of reach of the dog, would be the first defense,” Stottele said. “But during Easter, kids are thinking about their Easter basket, not their dog’s safety.” “Education,” he says, “is key to prevent the problem and learning proper treatment if necessary.”
Parents must teach children that chocolates are dangerous for dogs and that they need to keep all Easter treats safely away from the dog—keeping it elevated or in a cupboard perhaps.
Should a dog ingest chocolate, do not wait for the symptoms to appear before seeking advice and/or treatment from a veterinarian. Early detection and treatment can vastly increase the odds of a positive outcome.
According to The Family Puppy, treatments can include induced vomiting (depending on when the chocolate was ingested) or activated charcoal tablets to prevent absorption while in the stomach. More extensive treatment may be necessary with fluid IVs and heart medications if too much time has passed.
Dark, bitter chocolates will cause the most harm. For instance, even one ounce of dark chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips is enough to cause symptoms in a 50‐pound dog and could be seriously harmful to a 5‐pound puppy.
Even though milk chocolate and white chocolate are not as dangerous to dogs, they still can be toxic. For example the same 50‐pound dog would be at risk if it ingested eight ounces of milk chocolate.
Illness in dogs from ingestion of chocolate is caused by chemical toxicity from methylxanthines, which is closely related to caffeine, according to The Family Puppy. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, lethargy, increased thirst, elevated heart rate and seizures. Elevated levels of toxicity can lead to cardiotoxicity (toxic to the heart) and even to neurotoxicity (toxic to nervous system), both of which could result in death.