By Melissa Jo Peltier
You have an old fashioned sweetheart who gives you a heart-shaped box of chocolates every Valentine’s Day. That’s a charming and romantic tradition for humans – but not for dogs. In fact, ingesting chocolate can be life-threatening for your best friend.
Chocolate contains a chemical component called theobromine, which is easily metabolized by humans, but not by canines. Ingesting chocolate might only cause your dog to have an upset stomach, diarhea, or mild vomiting…but it also might cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or even a heart attack.
Different foods have different levels of theobromine in them. White or milk chocolates have less, dark chocolates and cocoa powders have more. But that doesn’t mean even a small amount is safe – even 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of your dog’s body weight could still be deadly.
Early symptoms of chocolate poisoning include restlessness, panting, shaking, and extreme thirst…but vets warn owners not to wait, even if they just suspect their dog has eaten chocolate. Get your pup to the emergency room, where a vet can assess the situation and treat with IV fluids, activated charcoal, or vomiting agents, depending on the severity of the case. If an owner is alert and acts fast, the ending can be a happy one.
A dog’s chances for theobromine poisoning can quadruple around holidays which feature our favorite human treat. So enjoy your Valentine’s Day chocolates, but make sure to keep them well out of your four-legged pal’s reach.