Filling your stockings with chocolate? Be careful with dogs in the house!

Those stashes of stocking chocolate waiting to be delivered on Christmas Eve can be deadly for your dog if they find it early.  Chocolate poisoning is one of the most common causes of canine poisoning. Chocolate’s deadliness to pooches, however, depends on the size of the dog, how much chocolate was munched, the quality of that chocolate and whether it was milk, white or dark chocolate.

Older dogs, puppies, and dogs with other health issues are also more vulnerable. The symptoms of a toxic dose of chocolate begin within the first few hours after consumption — vomiting, diarrhea or hyperactivity. As time passes and more theobromine is absorbed, your dog’s heart rate will increase, which can cause arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and/or excessive panting. The third phase is muscle tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

Read this article for full details of how dangerous is chocolate for dogs.

My dog last year binged on four stockings full of chocolate and he is still here, thankfully. So, for this holiday season, I wanted to share with you the most recent experience I had with Prince, my lab, his chocolate-binging, and how I handled it.

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My dog is a Labrador retriever who is dedicated to finding any forgotten treat, food or snacks in bags, coat pockets, or on the counter.  He could work in airport security he is so thorough.  He opens bags and finds food that has long been forgotten.  His technique for opening the bag usually does not damage the bag, somehow he has figured how to work the zipper.  If he goes for a treat in a pocket, he makes a tiny hole on the inside of the jacket pocket.  I am usually in the dark when it comes to his shenanigans until I put my hand in my pocket.

Luckily for me, he does not devour the packaging if he has had a binge-fest which is how I found out about his latest misadventure with chocolate last week. Turns out he had treated himself to 3/4 of a bar of 85% cacao, which he had extracted from a friend’s backpack.  I have been down this road before with him (and his eating of dark chocolate) so I know how quickly it affects him as well as how dangerous it is and the price tag for the vet. I knew I needed to act quickly to rid the toxic cacao from his system.  You have a window of about 4-6 hours after ingestion to act with positive results.

Without telling him a thing, I put him on the leash and handed my friend the bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  We went outside and I told her to pour in some hydrogen peroxide when I get his mouth open.  Vets encourage to give a few teaspoons at a time to induce vomiting, but I know from past experience that if I don’t get enough down him the first time, he is not coming back for more. Hydrogen peroxide works quickly and it is amazing to watch my black dog literally turn a dark green and start vomiting.  After emptying his stomach of all the chocolate he looked at me deflated and betrayed. But, he was still alive and we were going to get a good nights’ sleep.  The next treat was activated charcoal – it is suggested you make a nice slurry but I knew there was not a chance I could pry his mouth open again.  So a capsule hidden in peanut butter went down the hatch. The charcoal binds to many types of poisons and thus prevents their absorption into the bloodstream.

He settled down for the night – giving me a wide berth for the rest of the evening. We slept through the night with him eagerly showing up for breakfast the next morning.

 

 

 

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