Death By Chocolate, How Much is Too Much?

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We all love Easter; whether you appreciate the religious significance, enjoy the lighter nights and better weather that spring brings or just the fact that’s it’s the first public holiday of the year.
Easter for children however really means chocolate; chocolate eggs, chocolate buttons, mini eggs, chocolate rabbits, chocolate chicks, bars of chocolate, choc-o-lat! Now if your kid’s generous, he’s going to want to share some with you (hopefully) and maybe with your dog and that’s the subject of this article.

Now we’re sure that our audience on here, already know about chocolate’s toxicity for dogs, but remember your non dog owning friends probably will not, and young children definitely won’t know, so it’s always worth sharing a seasonal reminder, especially if you have family visit over Easter with young children who won’t know not to share their chocolate buttons with your pooch.

Kids, even royal ones, love sharing with dogs, make sure they don’t feed yours chocolate

Public Awareness of  Chocolate Poisoning.

Dictionary.com define the word poison as

1.a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.

And a poisoner as; Someone who is an administer of a substance likely to poison  (a person or animal), either deliberately or accidentally. ie “he tried to poison his wife”

From reading through the forums we’re guessing that if you’re reading this then you’re going to be in one of 3 camps:
  • It’s an old wives tale; mine always have the odd chocolate drop and it’s never hurt them.
  • It’s common knowledge stop boring us with old news.
  • I honestly never knew.

Well, whatever camp you’re in, this guide is still for you even if you are already aware because as you read this article it will become clear that many people may not or don’t, take it at all seriously. If you have or you are around young children as we are (the authors) you’ll know that kids love feeding dogs, so it doesn’t hurt to show this guide to the parents of the child that you told off so they understand you’re not making a fuss over nothing.

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs.

  • The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolise theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.
  • A large dog can consume more chocolate than a small dog before suffering ill effects.
  • A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.

The usual treatment for theobromine poisoning is to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. If you are worried or suspect that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate and they are showing any of the signs listed above, call your veterinarian immediately.

If you have a small dog that has eaten a box of chocolates, you need to call and go to your veterinarian right away. Do not wait.

Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest. If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in dark chocolate means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog.

 How Much Chocolate Requires a Trip To The Vets.

  • Baking chocolate: Approximately 0.5 ounce for a 10-pound dog, 1 ounce for a 20-pound dog, and 1.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet. Baking chocolate includes Baker’s Chocolate, Callebaut, Ghirardelli, Guittard, Lindt, Menier, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.
  • Dark chocolate: Approximately 1.5 ounces for a 10-pound dog, 3 ounces for a 20-pound dog, and 4.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet.
  • Milk chocolate: Approximately 3.5 ounces (more than 2 regular Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars) for a 10-pound dog, 7 ounces for a 20-pound dog, and 10.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet. Milk chocolate includes M&M’s, Hershey’s, Mars, Kit Kat, Dove, Cadbury, Toblerone, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher and Galaxy. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxicity.
  • White chocolate: well unless they’ve broken into Willy Wonker’s he isn’t going to get ill unless they have eaten Approximately 47 pounds of white chocolate for a 10-pound dog, 95 pounds of white chocolate for a 20-pound dog, and 145 pounds of white chocolate for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet.

Whats a Fatal Dose Look Like For My Dog?

We haven’t bothered with white chocolate because no one keeps 50lbs of white chocolate around do they? But more obviously, a 10lb dog can’t really eat 47lbs of it can they, so let’s just say white chocolate’s a non issue.

But the other types of chocolate… well for a small dog the amount required can be quite scarcely low, drop a square of cooking chocolate that your Chihuahua picks up and you could be in big trouble.

If you feel that you need an accurate guide for your dog based on it’s weight and the amount and type of chocolate eaten, then here’s a great calculator for use on a PC but won’t work on a mobile so here’s an alternative. For an accurate result you’ll need to know the type of chocolate the amount and your dog’s weight.

If it was us, to be safe, if you find your dog with an empty Easter egg box then why not just get on with making your dog sick whilst you work out if a trip to the vets is needed.

An Occasional Treat?

This is really what quite a lot dog owners think about chocolate and dogs. If this is you the we won’t judge as we’re sure you love your dogs, but just think about those non dog owners or kids around you and what example it sets them.

Example post taken from a dog forum

“Mine do eat chocolate just not a lot of chocolate, One malteaser I find does no harm, neither does a smear in their kongs but this is a real treat not an everyday thing. It has done my dogs no harm over the 30 years we have owned dogs and when one of ours a few years ago stole and ate a whole box of milk tray apart from 2 days of cleaning up runny poos he was fine”

So OK a couple of chocolate drops aren’t going to make them seriously ill is it, unless it’s dark chocolate and a small dog, but why give your dog a little bit of something that could make them ill. Dogs are like young children we have to make their choices for them, would you feed a child just little bit of something that if you gave them that bit too much, would make them ill or even kill them? Of course not.

Plus it sets a bad example not only to your dogs, who may acquire a taste for it, (dogs are known to gave a sweet tooth) but to other people who interact with your dog and may feed it the odd Chocolate whilst you’re not in the room… like young children for example. (by the way I am sat here writing this whilst eating an entire bag of mini eggs I stole from my kid’s Easter egg… Phil :- )

 

Cocoa Shell Mulch: A Little-Known Danger

Think twice before you spread cocoa shell mulch on your property. It’s dangerous for dogs as they like it’s sweet smell and it’s difficult to know how much they may have eaten if they start to show signs of being unwell.

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    findmylostdog
    Keymaster

    Do you feed your dog the odd chocolate drop? have you had any experiences with anyone else feeding your dog chocolate, such as a neighbour or friends kids and if so how did you deal with it, come on who’s going to get the ball rolling.

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