Holidays are a day of showing love and affection. For many dog owners, it is hard to resist giving our beloved pet a little treat on a holiday and few things say I love you as well as chocolate.
Unfortunately, what giving a well-intentioned gift of chocolate to your dog actually says is, I am poisoning you.
How much poison is OK?
Coca, a major ingredient in chocolate, contains theobromine-and that is the poisonous part. The concentration of theobromine varies by the type of chocolate, with white chocolate having very little and dark chocolate having as much as 10 times the concentration that milk chocolate has.
So how much is dangerous? A mere 52 milligrams of theobromine per pound of a dog's body weight can be deadly. Per pound of a dog's weight, that is about 1 ounce of milk chocolate and about one-tenth of an ounce of dark chocolate.
But remember, that is when it reaches potentially fatal levels. There are many things that can happen at lower levels.
Not deadly-but certainly not good
Additional effects of theobromine poisoning include:
The asterisked words are red flags to contact your veterinarian immediately. If the dog is not vomiting, then induce vomiting. (Keeping a bottle of syrup of ipecac on-hand is always a good precaution.)
There is no specific antidote for theobromine poisoning.
While a Great Dane is unlikely to die from eating a few chocolate kisses, it is important to remember that some dogs are more sensitive to theobromine than other dogs. Even a large dog may have a life-threatening reaction to a relatively small dose of the poison. With small dogs, it is easy to hit deadly levels while ingesting what to a person may seem like a small amount of chocolate.
Hoard your stash
It is also important to remember that dogs are gorgers. If a dog takes a box of chocolates or finds a stash of chocolate bars, it is likely to eat the entire thing in one gluttonous meal. For that reason, it is important to your dog's safety that chocolate be kept inaccessible at all times.
There are many foods that are toxic to dogs. For this reason, it is best to feed dogs food and treats that are made specifically to meet their dietary requirements. But with certain holidays comes a desire to share a human treat with our dog, and chocolate is such a pleasure for so many people.
Remember, if you love your dog, then do not give it poi