In my home, we have three cats and a Border Collie. Between my husband and myself, we’ve never been without pets. So, I guess because of this, we’ve just always known that there are certain things that our animals cannot eat that you and I may consume on a regular basis.
Growing up, my family has always fed our pets table scraps. With the arrival of our Nora, however, we ceased. The cats still get to lick cream or cooked fish off of our fingers every once in a while, but we refuse to set down a plate of leftovers for any of them lest we suffer the consequences by the next morning.
But it’s this natural human tendency that can actually get our pets in trouble, as well as the occasional messy tendencies of our children. Over the past 24 hours, I read on FaceBook of two separate incidents of dogs ingesting chocolate. Bluntly, depending on the size of your dog and the type of chocolate that was eaten, it WILL kill your pet. One of the two dogs (belonging to my friend, Teresa) was touch and go overnight. Keep those treats that Santa brought out of the reach of your furry friends.
Chocolate not only has caffeine, but it also contains a chemical called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. It’s used medically in humans to increase urine, widen blood vessels and increase heart rate. The human body only takes between two and six hours to process this chemical after it’s consumed. The same applies to caffeine, which is why we generally experience the ‘afternoon crash’ after drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Dogs take approximately 20 hours to process through these chemicals.
In those 20 hours, your dog could have simple side effects like dehydration, hyperactivity, diarrhea and vomiting. With enough chocolate, however, the dog’s heart rate can increase. This can then lead to arrhythmia, muscle twitches, increased urination and rapid panting. More severe cases cause seizures, hypothermia, muscle tremors and even death.
Again, this can all vary depending on the weight of your dog and what was consumed. For example, 20-lb poodle could theoretically eat about 40 ounces of M&Ms before getting poisoned. But, just a third of a pound of cocoa could kill the same dog. Baking chocolate is even more deadly. Two squares of that would be lethal to the poodle. My dog, Nora could eat eight 1-lb bags of M&Ms before it would be lethal to her.
Teresa’s dog, Lilly, is an 11-pound, two-year-old Bichon Chin. Yesterday morning, sometime after 10, Lilly consumed an unknown amount of cocoa powder-covered dark chocolate truffles. Within a couple hours, she was throwing up the truffles. By eight last night, Lilly was at the vet in cardiac distress.
She was monitored overnight and $765 later, she was able to go home earlier this afternoon. Luckily for Teresa, this was much lower than the estimated $1400 the vet initially told her it could cost to treat her pet.
While researching what ailed Lilly, I also saw that other things that could poison your animal found in general table scraps were grapes and raisins, garlic and onions. Again, their bodies don’t process the chemicals found in these foods like ours can. In fact, they cause your dogs blood cells to burst, further causing anemia and liver damage.
Giving your dog mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, liver damage, kidney damage, seizures, coma and even death.
Giving your dog bones is also discouraged, despite popular beliefs. Bones (like chicken bones and pork bones) can splinter if split, causing major gastrointestinal damage.
Though popular to grow this time of year, poinsettias are poisonous to pets. My cats are chewers. Thus, we have no live plants in my house.
For more information on food poisoning in pets a few useful links I found were: