Dogs are able to eat a variety of ingredients that we normally have in our kitchen: fresh fruits, several raw or cooked vegetables, meats, natural yogurt, vegetable oils, legumes and cooked cereals, eggs, fish, etc.
With discretion and common sense – always keeping in mind that dogs are not “furry little people” – dogs can share almost everything from our fridge and freezer. However, there are some foods that should never be offered to dogs. Some of these prohibited foods are: peppers, grapes, onions and chocolate.
This article, an Easter special, aims to alert dog owners about the dangers of chocolate. Check it out below and understand why we should leave our Easter eggs, chocolates, chocolate treats and even powdered chocolate far from our best friends.
Yummy for us, dangerous for them.
A few dozen grams of our favorite chocolate treat is enough to bring a dog into a coma and even death. The villain in this story is an alkaloid derived from cocoa called theobromine. This raw substance of caffeine has a diuretic, vasodilating and stimulating effect on the central nervous system and in the heart. And don’t think that your dog needs to swallow a one-pound Easter egg to get intoxicated. Although the literature reports that 100 to 150 grams of chocolate are needed per kilogram of body weight to seriously intoxicate it, symptoms such as tachycardia, excitement, abdominal distension, muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and temperature may arise with the intake of just over half that amount. In simpler terms, a very concerning dose of chocolate is approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight.
Theobromine is rapidly absorbed after ingestion and soon begins to stimulate the brain and heart, which can trigger cardiac arrhythmias in the animal. And don’t think that only the heart and brain are damaged. If the dog decides to attack the chocolates, the pancreas may also suffer from the high fat content of the treat.
But why is chocolate bad for dogs?
The problem comes from the non-metabolization of theobromine in their body. We are able to break and excrete this substance, so it does not accumulate in our body. In dogs however, theobromine accumulates and quickly reaches toxic concentrations.
Some chocolates are worse than others. The theobromine content varies according to the type of chocolate. Check out the contents of theobromine in the different chocolates:
- White chocolate: because it contains very little cocoa, it has trace contents of theobromine, being the least toxic of chocolates. Even so it should not be offered, as it is rich in sugar and fats.
- Milk chocolate: 100 grams have 154 milligrams of theobromine. The fatal dose for a 6-pound dog would be 350 grams.
- Dark chocolate: 100 grams contain 528 milligrams of theobromine. The fatal dose for a dog weighing 6 pounds would be 110 grams.
- Cooking chocolate (the one used in homemade Easter eggs and cakes): 100 grams contain 1,365 milligrams of theobromine. The fatal dose for a 6-pound dog would be 35 grams!
Signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours after the dog has eaten it, may last up to 72 hours, and include the following:
• Increased urination
• Elevated or abnormal heart rate
• Collapse and death
Note: Older dogs and dogs with heart conditions are more at risk of sudden death from chocolate poisoning.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested considerable amounts of chocolate consult the veterinarian. Theobromine toxicity is dose-dependent. That is, it depends on the theobromine content in the chocolate, the amount of chocolate ingested and the size of the animal. Symptoms appear 6 to 12 hours after ingestion. The treatment of chocolate poisoning can be complicated. There is no antidote. Depending on the symptoms that the animal shows and the time elapsed since ingestion, the veterinarian may perform a gastric lavage, infuse fluids to avoid dehydration due to vomiting and / or diarrhea among other treatments. Theobromine half-life in dogs is 17 hours. But it can take 24 hours or more to be eliminated.
Chocolates and dogs should definitely not mix! So, keep Easter eggs, chocolates and bars well out of the reach of dogs. Avoid also offering those “chocolates” suitable for dogs, for sale in pet stores. This type of treat does not contain theobromine, but ends up presenting the animal with flavors and smells very similar to those of the “people’s” chocolate. And how do you think a chocoholic dog will behave in front of a basket of Easter eggs?
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