Chocolate poisoning is common around the holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter—when lots of candy is available. Puppies get into chocolate most often because of their curious nature. All dogs are at risk for chocolate poisoning, but if a puppy eats it, it could kill them due to a puppies’ small size and relatively underdeveloped internal safeguards. Their smaller size increases the risk of chocolate poisoning even if they consume a small quantity.
What Is Chocolate Poisoning?
Chocolate contains high amounts of fat and is made from the roasted seeds of cocoa plants. Chocolate contains Methylxanthines which includes Theobromine, a chemical related to caffeine. Dogs can’t metabolize Theobromine as quickly as humans; therefore, this compound becomes toxic to them.
Darker chocolate contains more theobromine, the main toxin, then milk chocolate or white chocolate, making it much more dangerous to your pup. For this reason, unsweetened baker’s chocolate is considered the most highly poisonous form. The ingestion of only 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate is potentially fatal in small puppies who are less than 10 pounds, according to the PetMD website. Milk chocolate contains about seven times less Theobromine than baking chocolate; white chocolate contains the smallest amount of this toxin with only around 0.25 mg of Theobromine per ounce.
Consuming too much chocolate affects a dog’s nervous and cardiovascular systems, causing hyperactive behavior and high heart rate, along with other signs.
Chocolate Poisoning Symptoms
After ingesting chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate, your little puppy may exhibit poisoning symptoms including vomiting, bouts of diarrhea, increased thirst and more frequent urination, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Poisoned pets may pass large amounts of urine due to the diuretic effect of the compound, which also relaxes bladder control.
If your pup has eaten a large amount of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, he could also experience hyperactivity, an elevated or abnormal heart rate, seizures, tremors or collapse. Some young pups may experience a raised body temperature and panting from the chocolate’s toxins; they can go into a coma. Poisoning symptoms may appear 6 to12 hours after ingestion and can continue for days because Theobromine and Caffeine are continually reabsorbed by your pup’s body, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
If you see that your little puppy has consumed chocolate or something containing chocolate, get him to the vet right away for treatment. No antidote for chocolate poisoning exists, but your vet can induce vomiting to get the chocolate out of his system. Supportive treatment from the veterinarian can be offered to prevent further absorption of the poison and hasten elimination, along with symptomatic treatment.
Your vet may also provide intravenous fluids to further clear toxins from the dog’s body. The vet may give your puppy liquid activated charcoal to help prevent additional absorption of the Theobromine and Caffeine into the puppy’s circulatory system. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the vet may also give your pup medication to help regulate his heartbeat.
Although white chocolate contains less Theobromine and Caffeine than other chocolates, it can cause acute Pancreatitis after ingestion by your pup because of its high fat content. Symptoms of this condition are similar to mild chocolate poisoning, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Small amounts of chocolate, even milk chocolate, are more toxic to puppies than full-grown dogs because of their small size.
The best way to deal with chocolate toxicity is to prevent the problem from ever happening. For safety’s sake, place all chocolate products, including candy and baked goods, in sealed containers that your curious puppy can’t access. Most dogs and puppies have a sweet tooth, so keep chocolate out of reach and be especially vigilant around the holidays.
You can help to prevent chocolate poisoning with some common training methods, including crate training so that he doesn’t have access to treats left out overnight. Teach your dog to “leave it,” so that you can control your pet’s actions if you see it about to snack on chocolate. Talk with all adults in the house about maintaining a chocolate-free zone to keep pets healthy and educate children to never give chocolate to the pets as a treat.
When it comes to the outdoors, avoid using cocoa-based mulch in your garden because your little pup may eat it, resulting in chocolate poisoning according to the VetStreet pet wellness website.