With Halloween just around the corner many people are scrambling to get a last minute costume, their pumpkins carved, and their candy stocked. While humans may look forward to the fun ahead, Halloween can be a very stressful time for dogs. Imagine having to wear a cumbersome costume (that the other dogs will make fun of) while trying to be taken seriously as you attempt to protect the house which is constantly under attack by strange, short creatures that sort of resemble humans.
Dogs can be easily stressed out by all the holiday activity and strangers coming to the door. But there is only one major stress for a pet parent every year, and that is….CHOCOLATE. Just the thought of all that candy so easy to get to and all those children ready and willing to share their plunder with a cute little pup can make any dog owner quiver. If you find yourself faced with a chocolate debacle this Halloween, keep a cool head and remember the facts.
The truth about chocolate:
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to cats and dogs. Theobromine is a central nervous system stimulant (chemically similar to caffeine) that can lead to poisoning (also known in this case as chocolate poisoning) if too much is consumed. Chocolate poisoning can even happen in humans (especially the elderly) if too much is consumed, but in moderation, the amount of theobromine found in the refined candies and chocolate foods we eat is usually not high enough to harm us. Dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly, however, and can succumb to poisoning from as little as 50 grams. The darker the chocolate is the more theobromine it contains. Milk chocolate is less toxic than dark chocolate and dark chocolate is less toxic than baker’s chocolate.
A good rule of thumb to determine if your dog ate a potentially fatal dosage of chocolate:
Milk Chocolate: 1 oz of milk chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Dark Chocolate: ½ oz of dark chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Baking Chocolate: ¼ oz of baking chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, twitching, and seizing. These symptoms can progress to cardiac arrhythmias, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks and eventually death. Veterinarians treat poisoning by inducing vomiting within 2 hours of consumption, but the sooner the better.
If you can’t get to a veterinarian in time, don’t worry, you can induce vomiting at home as well. You can induce vomiting by slowly injecting hydrogen peroxide down your dog’s throat. Give your dog 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide for every 15 lbs of the dog’s body weight (example: 30 lbs = 2 tablespoons). Wait 3 – 5 minutes for him to vomit. If he doesn’t vomit you can give him another dosage.
Avoid giving your dog even a “safe” amount of chocolate because dogs can develop a craving for it just like humans. And if your ambitious pup has the chance to snag some chocolate while you’re not looking he may end up in the emergency room or even dead, and that’s not a chance worth taking. Be careful this Halloween and holiday season as all dogs are capable of getting into trouble.