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Dogs and chocolate: What’s the deal?

4th July 2018

We’ve all been there, when our dogs have dug into the pantry in pursuit of – well anything edible! As dog owners, it’s so important that we know what to keep off our bottom shelves and why.

Most of us are aware that chocolate and dogs do not mix. But what’s lesser known is why this is the case - and unfortunately, chocolate poisoning can be quite common during the festive seasons of Easter and Christmas.

Ultimately, this toxicity stems from a compound found in the cocoa within chocolate products, called Theobromine. According to an Australian study published earlier this year, there are roughly 1-9 milligrams of theobromine in every gram of chocolate, and even higher levels in dark or cooking chocolate. This means varying levels of toxicity, which generally begin to materialize at a ratio of 20mg per kilogram of body weight onwards. Roughly speaking, that means that if a 5kg dog ingested more than 100mg of chocolate we would start to see problems.

The common symptoms associated with Theobromine poisoning, are:

  • Restlessness/ hyperactivity
  • Nervousness
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting and/ or diarrhoea
  • Increased drinking and increased urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • In very extreme cases, seizures or death.

A dog’s reactions to chocolate consumption will vary according to the amount and type of chocolate consumed, as well as individual differences of each dog such as it’s physical attributes.

So why are our dogs actually attracted to chocolate?

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. This combined with a curious disposition and sweet tooth, makes it both easy and likely that they’ll locate chocolate hidden around the house or even in the bin. Cases of chocolate toxicity tend to spike in the holiday seasons, particularly around Christmas and Easter. Make sure to find and recover all the chocolate eggs after those Easter egg hunts!

To safeguard our pooches and to make sure curiosity doesn’t get the better of them, it’s also important that we make sure chocolate around the house is stored safely in an area that our canine companions can’t claw their ways into.

What should I do if my dog accidently ate chocolate?

If your dog has ingested chocolate, the safest course of action would be to call or visit your local vet as quickly as possible to seek advice or possibly treatment - all the while keeping a close eye on them. If chocolate toxicity is suspected, your dog may be induced to vomit to reduce the amount of ingested chocolate being absorbed by the body and the treatment will vary dependent on the degree of clinical signs present.

We all love our dogs and where their health is concerned, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

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Whole Earth Farms Blog

Welcome to the Whole Earth Farms Blog! This blog exists to celebrate wholesome dog nutrition, dispel myths and act as an educational tool to help you navigate the complex world of dog nutrition and health.

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