It wasn’t too long ago (about 2 years) when I came home to find my floor littered with chocolate candy wrappers all over the floor. That wave of panic came over me as I thought, “Well crap… Shayne just ate a lot of chocolate… now what?” So let’s take a minute to talk about chocolate poisoning in dogs.
The chemical that causes the poisoning in chocolate is theobromine. This chemical is found naturally in the cocoa bean–so the amount of danger a dog who ingests chocolate is in depends on the amount of this chemical in the product. This is why medium/large dogs can consume an entire pan of “boxed” brownies without so much as getting gas. There is a relatively small amount of <em>real</em> cocoa powder in those brownie mixes so a medium or large sized dog can eat them without problem. The same goes for milk-chocolate candies like Hershey Kisses, M&M’s, Chips-Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Snickers bars–these milk-chocolate treats do not have as much theobromine in them so it takes quite a lot to cause illness.
Let’s hop back for a moment to Shayne’s chocolate adventure (of which she has had two over her lifetime). It was after Christmas and I had just returned to my apartment in NY from a vacation in Pittsburgh. I didn’t even know I had chocolate in my bag but I must’ve because when I came home from work I saw about 10 Hershey kisses on the ground, and the wrappers for about 10-15 Lindt Truffles and Ghiradelli chocolate squares (yes, my dog went for the expensive gourmet chocolate and left the Hershey Kisses alone). Now some of these chocolates were labeled as “dark chocolate” which means there was more theobromine yet others were white chocolate which means virtually no theobromine. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if there were a free resource where someone could find out the levels of different types of chocolate that would be dangerous to their dog. It would be really helpful as a step to determining if an expensive trip to the emergency vet is warranted.
Well, it just so happens that I recently found out that there IS such a resource for dog owners. National Geographic has created this amazing interactive chart to show exactly how much white/milk/semi-sweet/baking chocolate would cause upset mild/moderate/severe illness to the dog. You scroll to your dog’s current weight and it shows you a beautiful graph that shows the specific weights of the different types of chocolate and the effect on the body.
So, if you ever find yourself in that awful situation, try to figure out the weight and type of chocolate consumed and you can use the chart, Found Here to determine if you need to call poison control for instructions or take Fido to the vet or just laugh at the few missing chocolate chip cookies. The website isn’t a substitute for veterinary care but it can help you not panic if Fido eats a handful of M&M’s.
Since my live links aren’t working at the moment, you can find the chocolate chart here http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/10/pets/chocolate-chart-interactive Copy and paste it into your browser until I figure out why my links aren’t working