Valentine’s Day is coming up, and with it sweets and sweethearts. That means chocolates and flowers on the counter, waiting for someone to enjoy them. But, chocolate is something that no pup should enjoy this Valentine’s Day. Most of us have a rough idea that chocolate is bad for pups, but we should be aware of exactly how dangerous it can be, and what makes it bad for our four-legged friends.
Unfortunately, pups don’t usually know what’s good and bad for them; they leave those decisions up to us. Dogs are renowned for eating just about anything, and chocolate is very attractive to a sniffing snout that’s thinking about being sneaky this Valentine’s Day.
Chocolates of all sorts
What does make chocolate bad for pups? Well, it’s the very thing that makes chocolate so enjoyable for us. A chemical called theobromine is found in chocolates of all sorts at different levels and it actually makes chocolate make us feel good. Milk chocolate contains the least amount, since it’s mixed down in concentration. Toxicity would usually begin at about 1 oz. to pound of body weight. Say you have a fifteen pound dog, it would take fifteen ounces of milk chocolate to be deadly toxic. While that seems like a lot, that is the ultimate limit that a pup can take. It takes far less to begin to hurt your beloved friend.
While milk chocolate is the most common chocolate we run into, there are others such as the semi-sweet, baker’s chocolate, and the potent cocoa beans are extremely toxic for a dog. If they eat any of these, it’s recommended that you take your pup to the vet immediately. Don’t wait for them to show signs of sickness. The vet can pump their stomach and stop the toxins before they can enter the intestines.
Signs that your pup has gotten into your chocolates
Since it’s unlikely that your pup will leave the wrappers around for you to find (they’ll eat the whole thing before you can blink an eye), if you suspect that they’ve managed to snatch a few sweets when you weren’t looking, it will usually take about two hours for them to begin to show signs that the toxins have taken effect once the chocolate has entered the intestines. These signs will usually start with irritability, hyper-activity (more than usual), increased urination, and vomiting, which will help to get the chocolate out of their belly before it can be digested.
But you don’t want to wait for signs to show if you suspect they’ve eaten a lot. Depending on how much they have consumed, a trip to the vet is strongly recommended if they’ve consumed too much for their body weight. If you were lucky enough to catch them as they just started, a nibble here, or a few licks, you might get away with a belly ache and frequent trips to the potty (trust me, nature calls at least once an hour).
The cause of theobromine (chocolate) toxicity is because dogs can’t metabolize the chemical as fast as we can. The chemical accumulates in their body and begins to poison them. If your pup has eaten chocolate, it is likely that they’ll continue to show signs of it for at least seventy-two hours afterwards.
Avoid leaving chocolate around
We all know how sneaky our pups can be, so don’t take any chances when it comes to chocolate. Even leftover wrappers can have enough chocolate in them to upset a tummy, so make sure that trash makes it into the trash can- one that your pup can’t get to. Keep everything high up, preferably in its own canister where it can’t be knocked down (by you or other members of your family).
If you are going to enjoy some chocolate this Valentine’s Day, make sure that you always keep them out of reach. A heavy container would be best, to avoid the chances of it toppling over. Be sure that everyone in your family understands the danger of chocolate as well. You don’t want any of your youngsters sharing a piece of candy with your pup, especially since those big puppy dog eyes can often talk anyone into anything.
This Valentine’s Day, perhaps instead of chocolates for your sweetheart, try some other sweets that let them know you care. You might even get your pup some special treats just for them so that they don’t get too jealous.