Chocolate Could Kill Your Dog

Chocolate is toxic to dogs.

Ginny, a much-loved Great Dane of giant proportions, possessed great intelligence and OCD behaviors. Well-trained and usually very trustworthy, Ginny chose to test the limits one day. Had she been a smaller dog, her efforts could have killed her. Given this time of year when so many of us give food gifts, including chocolate, it pays to be extra careful with our dogs.

Ginny and the Tipsy Fudge Cake

To set the scene, I hid my Christmas shopping in bags in my bedroom closet until such time as I chose to wrap the gifts. The closet door handles did not turn. One had to pull the doors open. Because Ginny was such a good girl, I never locked her in her crate. She used it as she pleased as a “den” to escape a house full of 6 children.

One day I was away from home running carpool duties and when I returned, Ginny wasn’t at the door to greet me. I called her but she didn’t come. Kids scattered in all directions, looking for our pet. I walked back to my bedroom and discovered a strange mess on the floor. But no dog.  Laid out on the carpet – in order – were pieces of a Jack Daniels Tipsy Fudge Cake. I had bought the cake to send to friends in New Zealand for Christmas and knew it was in my closet in a shopping bag.

The Dane with OCD

I walked to my closet, which was closed, and pulled open the door. No Ginny.  The shopping bags were both intact – or so I thought. But I could see one bag was slightly torn and a bit messed up. Returning to the pieces on the floor, I found the outer cellophane wrapper, a bit chewed. Next to it lay the cardboard box with labels and ingredients and such. It was in pretty good condition but pulled open on one end.  Next to the box was a metal box that the cardboard had covered. The metal box lay open with lid beside it, and I couldn’t find a tooth mark anywhere. Each item lay beside the previous one in a line on the carpet. Beside the metal box and lid was another piece of cellophane – mouthed and full of Great Dane slobber but otherwise intact. Next came a paper wrapping.

Not a crumb remained on the paper wrapping. It was licked clean. Six items were laid out like an assembly line. My boys walked in saying they couldn’t find Ginny anywhere, and I showed them her handiwork. I knew our girl was hiding somewhere and just prayed she was safe.

Ginny’s Hiding Place

My daughter was at dance class, and her room was the only one unsearched. Her door was closed but as I opened it, I felt the slobber all over the handle.  Ginny knew how to pull down on the handle to open the door and then had closed it behind herself.

I found Ginny hiding between Elisa’s twin beds. She was shaking and terrified she was in big trouble. I was afraid the shaking had to do with the chocolate and the booze she had consumed but once I called her and she realized I wasn’t angry, she stood and wiggled her behind across the room to me. So far, she had suffered no ill effects from her stolen treat.

Lucky Dog!

Ginny was a lucky pup to have eaten the entire Tipsy Fudge Cake with no problems. She did not get sick and was quite ready for her dinner when the time came.  I learned that this unusual dog possessed talents not known by many canines and we really dodged a bullet that time. A smaller dog would likely have died from the amount of chocolate (and bourbon) that Ginny consumed.

Chocolate Is Poison to Dogs

Dr. Deborah Lichtenberg, VMD, writes about the amount of chocolate that is toxic to pets. She says you should know your dog’s weight and the type of chocolate he consumed before calling a pet emergency hot line. Those pieces of information are critical in determining whether you should rush to the vet. Try to determine the amount of chocolate the dog consumed. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk or white chocolate.

Dr. Lichtenberg gives the following guide to the types of chocolate and how much would be toxic to certain pound dogs:

  • “Baking chocolate: Approximately 0.5 ounce for a 10-pound dog, 1 ounce for a 20-pound dog, and 1.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet. Baking chocolate includes Baker’s Chocolate, Callebaut, Ghirardelli, Guittard, Lindt, Menier, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.
  • Dark chocolate: Approximately 1.5 ounces for a 10-pound dog, 3 ounces for a 20-pound dog, and 4.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet.
  • Milk chocolate: Approximately 3.5 ounces (more than 2 regular Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars) for a 10-pound dog, 7 ounces for a 20-pound dog, and 10.5 ounces for a 30-pound dog all require a call to the vet. Milk chocolate includes M&M’s, Hershey’s, Mars, Kit Kat, Dove, Cadbury, Toblerone, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher and Galaxy. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxicity.
  • White chocolate: All but impossible for a dog to overdose on. Approximately 47 pounds of white chocolate for a 10-pound dog, 95 pounds of white chocolate for a 20-pound dog, and 145 pounds(!) of white chocolate for a 30-pound dog all would require a call to the vet.”

Chocolate is toxic, even to big dogs.

Early Treatment May Save Your Dog’s Life

Brandy Arnold writes in The Dogington Post about warning signs of chocolate poisoning.  Diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, hyperactivity could all be signs of trouble, depending on the amount of theobromine in the chocolate the animal consumed.

Early treatment is important and could lessen the severity of the poisoning. Seek professional advice if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate of any kind. Gather the information you need to give your vet, such as the kind and amount of chocolate and follow his or her advice.

With all the candy and goodies lying around our homes this time of year, this is a good reminder to walk through and remove any items that might be poisonous to our pets.

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