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Chocolate Safety for Your Dog on Halloween & Share Their Costume Pics!
October 18, 2009

Issue #016, October 2009

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In This Issue

Dog Care News You Can Use:

  • Chocolate Safety for Your Dog on Halloween (and throughout the year)

OPD Web Site Updates:
  • Share a picture of your dog in their Halloween costume!

Organic, Natural and Holistic Dog Care
News You Can Use

Chocolate Safety for Your Dog on Halloween
(and throughout the year)

Halloween is a day full of tricks and treats for both young and old, and pulling your pet into the fun can make it all the better. But all those yummy treats lying around can really mean trouble if they get into the wrong paws!

It’s pretty well know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but…

  • Just how bad is it and why?

  • How much is too much?

  • Would you know what to do if your dog ate too much?

What makes chocolate poisonous for dogs?

This delicious treat loved by humans can cause real trouble when ingested by our four legged companions.

Chocolate contains two stimulants… caffeine and theobromine. These stimulants affect the central nervous system and hearts of dogs, throwing their system into a panic which often manifests in the form of epileptic seizures.

Theobroma cocoa, or theobromine, is found in its highest concentration in the cocoa bean itself. For this reason, Baker’s Chocolate and pure cocoa pose the greatest risk to your dog’s health.

Milk chocolate and white chocolate contain much lower amounts, so they pose much less risk of a fatal reaction.

Types of chocolate and toxicity

Could your dog die from eating one Snickers Bar?

The amount of chocolate that can be ingested depends on the amount of theobromine it contains along with the size of the dog that eats it…

Theobromine per ounce Toxicity Level Layman’s Terms
Milk chocolate 45mg/oz toxicity at 1 oz eaten/pound body weight Slightly less than ½ lb of milk chocolate can be toxic to the nervous system of a 20 lb dog
Semi-sweet chocolate 150mg-260mg/oz toxicity at 1 oz eaten/3-6 pounds body weight As little as 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate can be toxic to the nervous system of a 20 lb dog
Baker’s Chocolate 450mg/oz toxicity at 1 oz eaten/10 pounds body weight Two small 1 oz squares of baker’s chocolate can be toxic to the nervous system of a 20 lb dog
Cocoa Beans 450-1500mg/oz toxicity at one ounce eaten/10-33 lbs body weight 1-2 cocoa beans can be toxic to the nervous system of a 20 lb dog

Initial signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning in canines

If a dog has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate, certain signs and symptoms will be visible mostly due to the effect of the stimulants found in chocolate.

Ingesting only small amounts of chocolate well under the toxic levels can cause an upset stomach with diarrhea or vomiting. This could happen immediately or the day after ingestion.

Depending on the amount eaten, your dog could also exhibit…

  • Excitement
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased urination
  • Tremors leading to seizures
  • Coma

When should you rush your dog in for medical attention?

It depends on the size of your dog…
  • Dogs under 10 pounds – If you are the owner of a toy breed, a young puppy or any dog that weighs less than 10 lbs, then you should not take a gamble with any amount of ingested chocolate.

    Take your dog into the vet to play it safe.

  • Medium-sized and large dogs - If your medium to large sized dog has eaten a mini candy bar, a handful of M&M’s or licked up the remains of a piece of chocolate cake, it’s likely that everything will be just fine. Their body might expel the unwanted chocolate through vomit or diarrhea, but you may not notice any side effects at all.

    If they find their way into the Halloween candy stash, you should rush them to the vet or animal hospital immediately. Since there is no way of knowing exactly how much chocolate has been eaten, there is no reason to wait around to see what happens or for symptoms to occur… at that point it could be too late.

    If you’re on the fence due to their behavior or don’t know how much they’ve had, take them in.

Emergency care when you have no access to a vet or animal hospital

There are two things you should have in your Dog First Aid Kit that could save the life of your dog in case of a toxic chocolate ingestion…
  1. Hydrogen peroxide can be fed to them to induce vomiting. Take a syringe with measure marks and add 5ml (1 teaspoon) for each 10 pounds that your dog weighs (up to 30 pounds or 15 ml) and squirt it into the back of their mouth.

    For example, dogs that weight 30 pounds or more should get 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Depending on your dog, it might only take one dose.

    DO NOT give more than 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of hydrogen peroxide to any dog at one time.
  2. Nature's Way Activated Charcoal 100 caps
  3. Activated Charcoal can be fed after vomiting to counteract the effects of poisoning. It is non-toxic and comes in capsule form.

    In short, it works by attracting certain chemicals and micro-organisms and absorbing them. This prevents the toxic substances from getting further into the blood stream. It is commonly given to humans in emergency rooms as well for the same purpose.

    Keep some handy in the house for both your dogs and family. For an average-sized dog, 2 capsules should be plenty (if unsure, give more since there is no known negative effect of an overdose).

See our Dog First Aid Kit page for everything else you should have on hand in case of emergency.

Now onto a lighter note...

OPD Web Site Updates

Share pictures of your dog's costume!

We would love to see how you dress your dogs up this year. And so would all of our visitors!

Take a picture for us and post it to your own page on our site... it only takes a minute.

Just click here and follow the instructions.

And have fun this Halloween!

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? We'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell us what you think!

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