This month’s version of the Purr-esident’s Press is going to be a sad tale of a lesson learned.
Although I am the president of the rescue, most people will tell you that most of my knowledge base is related to cats. I do have dogs of my own though. One of my dogs is a very large healer/boxer mix. George is two years old, super sweet and goofy. You know, the ones that chase their tail constantly, barks at the shadows on the walls and let’s not even start about a laser pointer. He was born in the rescue and we’ve had him since he was a pup.
We usually leave him and one of my other dogs out during the day while my other two are kenneled. This is because he is normally well behaved. We keep our kitchen closed off with baby gates to keep him from getting in the garbage as most dogs are want to do.
One day in July, the gate was not put up and we were out of the house. My son called me when he got home and said he found that George had been in the kitchen and grabbed a full bag of dark chocolate off the counter. He wasn’t sure if both dogs had eaten it or not, but it was completely gone. There was a one-hour time laps that they could have eaten it.
I told him to take them to the vet immediately and I’ll tell you why.
Chocolate is deadly to dogs. It contains a component called theobromine. Although humans can easily metabolize it, dogs process it more slowly allowing it to build to toxic levels. The smaller the dog, the less theobromine needed to cause deadly effects. Different types have different levels of theobromine. Cooking and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk and white have the lowest.
In small amounts, it will most likely only cause upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts can produce muscle tremors, seizures, irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, possible heart attacks or death.
Unsweetened baking chocolate is the most dangerous. Containing nearly 10 times the theobromine as milk chocolate, 1 oz of baking chocolate can be lethal to a 2-pound dog.
Steps to take if you think your dog ate chocolate of any kind.
1 – CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY!! – If you can’t get into the vet or you think it was a small amount, follow these steps.
- Feed the pup a small meal. This will help to dilute the toxin and delay absorption. It will also make it easier to induce vomiting
- Give 3% hydrogen peroxide. 1 to 2 teaspoons for every 10 pounds of weight. Squirt it in the back of the throat. Use what you have – eyedropper, needless syringe, or even a turkey baster. If vomiting does not occur, you can repeat two or three more times in five-minute intervals.
- If you have syrup of ipecac, you can try this as well, but it takes longer to work then peroxide and only one dose can be given. The dose is one teaspoon per 35 pounds body weight.
- If you have nothing else, table salt works as well. It takes a couple doses of salt to work. One tablespoon, dry, in the back of the throat for an adult dog. This can be repeated in three minutes.
Your best bet is to go directly to your closest veterinarian immediately. Your vet will induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal, aggressive IV fluids, sedatives, heart medications, anticonvulsants and antacids. They will most likely also insert a catheter to keep the toxin from absorbing into the bladder walls.
We brought both George and Maggie to our vet right away. They had eaten a 24oz bag of dark chocolate. The vet induced vomiting and it looked as though Maggie had eaten very little, if any of the chocolate, which meant George ate all of it. Maggie came back home while George was given all the support listed above and stayed at the vet for most of the day.
Unfortunately, the vet closed at 6 and did not have after hours care. My son picked him up. He called me when he was halfway home and said he was not doing well. By the time he pulled into the driveway, George was in full seizures. I jumped in the car and we rushed him to another vet, they were about to leave but stayed for us.
George did not make it there. He passed away in the car as I rubbed his head and tried to sooth him.
Even though I run an animal rescue, even though I have a vast knowledge of medical needs with animals, even though I knew chocolate can make a dog sick, even though I love my fur-babies with all my heart, as it turns out… even I can make a fatal mistake.
So folks, as the holiday season starts to approach, Halloween fills our homes with chocolate and Christmas has us beginning to bake like mad, PLEASE Keep ALL Chocolate Put AWAY!!! Do not take the risk of thinking your dog can’t reach it on the counter. Put it in a closed cabinet or on a high shelf. Don’t lose your baby, like we lost ours.
President |AZ Center for Animal Rescue & Education |AZ CARE