Valentine’s Day is almost here and you are looking for unique ways to celebrate it not only with your loved ones, but also with your biggest admirers – your dogs! Unfortunately, dogs and chocolate are a notoriously bad combination. It’s true that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but that won’t stop your dog from trying to eat it.
Over 35 million people will receive heart-shaped chocolate boxes this Valentine’s making it the busiest day for veterinarians to field calls and treat chocolate poisoning in dogs.
Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?
Dogs, like people, love chocolate. Unfortunately for man’s best friend, chocolate is toxic and can cause severe poisoning and even death. That’s because chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine (a stimulant similar to caffeine). Dogs can’t process theobromine, so the levels accumulate and become deadly.
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. Dark or baker’s chocolate contains 10x more theobromine than milk chocolate. Levels vary from 130mg to 450mg of theobromine in an ounce of dark chocolate to 44mg to 58mg in an ounce of milk chocolate.
It only takes 115mg of theobromine per 2.2 pounds of body weight to kill a dog. To put that in perspective, 2 ounces of dark chocolate or 20 ounces of milk chocolate could kill a 20-pound dog. That’s equivalent to approx. three-fourths of a dark Ghirardelli chocolate bar or four and a half Hershey chocolate bars.
How many ounces are in your heart-shaped box of chocolates? Depends on the size of the box. Russell Stover’s boxes have a net weight range of 1.7oz to 42oz. Needless to say, you don’t want your dog eating any of it.
If you know your dog ate chocolate, don’t wait to do the math and call your veterinarian immediately.
On the other hand, if your dog snagged a few chocolates on the sly, you’ll want to look for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or hyperactivity. For larger consumption, you will notice an increase in your dog’s heart rate, muscle twitching, excessive panting, restlessness, and increased urination. If not treated immediately, it can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma, and death.
Prevention is the Best Strategy
Store chocolate in a top-level cabinet or the refrigerator where it is not accessible by your dog. Dogs are sneaky, smart, and they love chocolate, so choose a good hiding place.
Never leave chocolate out on counters or coffee tables. If you want to leave chocolates out for guests, secure your dog in another room or leave them with a friend for the night.
Have a heart shaped box at home that you are dying to dig into? Secure your dog in another room while enjoying your treats. Dogs really do love the smell and taste of chocolate. Eating chocolate in front of Fido will tempt them to find it later.
Doggy Safe Valentine Recipes
So how do you show some love to Fido and make him happy on this special occasion? Feeling bad that you can’t share your Valentine treats? You can make your own by substituting carob for chocolate. Here are two recipes that you and your dog will enjoy!
This article was originally published by Have A Dog Blog Will Travel on February 4, 2014. CeliaSue Hecht writes the Have Dog Blog will Travel blog that provides everything from pet health tips, pet food and dog treat product reviews, pet travel safety tips to reviews on dog-friendly venues, wineries and vehicles, info about traveling with pit bulls and their ornery owners.