Santa Claus, Can my dog have some chocolate treats?

Dear dog owner,

Cookies, chocolate candies, brownies: surrounded by all these temptations, most of us humans have a hard time saying no to putting quite a few pieces of chocolate in our mouths. Many dogs feel the same way!

Far too often, these sweets are easily accessible for our pets. They can grab a little bit for themselves without your noticing. But please remember: for cats and dogs, chocolate is poisonous! Our pets aren’t able to metabolize the theobromine contained in chocolate, because they lack the necessary enzyme. This substance accumulates in their bloodstream and leads to symptoms of poisoning, including panting, muscular tremors, and restlessness. These symptoms usually occur about five hours after eating the chocolate. If the dog also ate the packaging, then the onset of symptoms may be delayed because the digestive juices must first work their way through aluminum foil and paper.

The degree of intensity of the poisoning symptoms depends upon a number of different factors:

  • The theobromine content of the chocolate – milk chocolate contains significantly less theobromine than dark chocolate.
  • The weight of the dog: the greater the dog’s weight, the more theobromine he can tolerate. Conversely, eating even a single bar of dark chocolate may prove lethal for a small dog weighing only 10 pounds.
  • And, of course, the quantity of chocolate the dog has eaten.

Any time you suspect chocolate poisoning, you should consult your veterinarian – preferably at the time you first notice the missing chocolate and before your dog has shown any symptoms. If noticed early, inducing your dog to vomit is often sufficient, and the need for further treatment can be avoided.

Many dog owners regularly reward their dog with a little piece of chocolate, and the dogs seem to tolerate this without any problems. However, a number of studies have shown that even this can lead to severe and permanent damage to the heart musculature!

White chocolate actually contains no theobromine, and thus isn’t poisonous for dogs. Still, it is problematic, since it can result in obesity – but that is the topic for our January newsletter… You can obtain more information about chocolate poisoning at any time on our website.

We wish you a happy Christmas season!
Your enpevet team.