Dogs love to be handed treats. And when it comes to chocolate, who doesn't love it?
However, there are some treats that are delicious and safe for humans that are absolutely hazardous to Fido.
So if your dog ate some chocolate brownies or Oreo cookies, for example, then you do have reason to be concerned.
Chocolate is extremely harmful to dogs since it contains a compound known as theobromine. This compound causes a high level of toxicity in dogs and could even be fatal.
In the following guide, we'll take a look at the impact of chocolates on dogs and what you can do if your dog accidentally consumes some chocolate brownies or any other treat containing chocolate.
How dangerous is it that my dog ate brownies?
If your dog consumes Brownies, then there should be some concern.
This is especially if the brownies contained chocolate. What kind of brownies they are will also play a key role in how concerned you should be.
Brownie mix does not usually contain a high level of chocolate; however, if you added in chunks of chocolate or chocolate chips for example, then this would take the mix from not so dangerous to extremely dangerous.
Chocolate contains two compounds known as theobromine and caffeine, and together they are known as methylxanthines. These chemical compounds cause damage to the nervous system and heart, and this condition is known as chocolate toxicity in dogs.
Generally, the more bitter and darker the chocolate, the higher the content of the theobromine.
So it is important to decipher the type of chocolate your dog ingested and also the quantity. This information is often found on the candy wrapper, and it's also crucial to know your dog's weight.
Chocolate Toxicity in dogs
The different types of chocolates have different amounts of theobromine in them.
However, as a general rule of thumb, the more cocoa solids contained in a product, the more theobromine will be present, and therefore the more dangerous or hazardous it is for your funny friend.
Dark chocolate and chocolate used for baking such as cocoa powder and baker's chocolate are considered highly toxic to dogs as opposed to most other chocolate or white chocolate.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs
Some minor symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs include:
- Agitation and hyperactivity
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Increased thirst
Serious symptoms may include:
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
- Heart arrhythmias
In high doses when chocolate is ingested it may lead to:
- Cardiac failure
- Twitching and tremors
- Muscle rigidity
Low dose of chocolate ingested
If your dog has ingested a low dose of chocolate they may or may not need medical assistance, but it is recommended to induce vomiting with activated charcoal in order to prevent further absorption.
Some dogs are given subcutaneous fluids to flush the kidneys and keep them hydrated if they've already displayed symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. Anti-nausea medications may also be used to treat a dog at home.
High dose of chocolate ingested
If your dog has ingested a high amount of chocolate and is showing more serious symptoms, then it is recommended for them to be admitted to the hospital.
They will be monitored for heart rate and rhythm, be given multiple doses of activated charcoal, and IV fluids. In extreme cases, dogs are even given beta blocks.
Most pets often do fine if their owners are diligent about treatment and notice the symptoms as soon as the chocolate is ingested.
Xylitol Toxicity in dogs
One of the naturally occurring substances that are often used as a sugar substitute is known as xylitol.
Chemically, it is a sugar alcohol and found naturally in plums, berries, mushrooms, oats, lettuce, corn, and some other fruits. It is usually extracted from corn fiber, hardwood trees, birch trees as well as other vegetable material.
Over the last few years, xylitol has been used widely as a substitute for sugar, however, it's been used for a couple of decades before now. It's low glycemic and contains dental plaque fighting properties.
Although it's safe for human consumption, it's extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of the substance can lead to hypoglycemia, liver failure, seizures, and possibly even death in dogs.
The level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas, and this is the case with both humans and dogs. In humans, xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin.
However, when dogs eat something containing xylitol, it's quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas.
This rapid release of insulin leads to a profound decrease in the level of blood sugar, and the effects can build up within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. If it is untreated in your dog, it could be life-threatening.
The dose that can be lethal to the dog is between 50 mg per pound of bodyweight. The higher the dose ingested, the more risk of liver failure in your pet.
Ironically, the most common cause of xylitol poisoning comes from sugar-free gum. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a xylitol-containing product, you should reach out to your vet immediately.
It's not recommended to induce vomiting or give anything orally to your dog unless specifically advised to do so by your vet. Get the treatment for your dog as quickly as possible so that they can recover as soon as possible.
Some of the symptoms of xylitol poisoning include weakness, vomiting, depression or lethargy, seizures, coma, tremors. In severe cases, dogs will experience liver failure.
While there is no anecdote for xylitol toxicity, your pet will receive treatment via sugar supplementation, liver protective drugs, and IV fluids.
Type of Brownies
Every time you bake up a pan of brownies, irrespective of whether it is from scratch or a pre-mix, there's no question that it's a real treat.
These sweet chocolate squares are a timeless hit, and there are a variety of different types of brownies that you can whip up in the comfort of your own home. So let's take a look at some of these brownies that you can enjoy.
Regular brownies are the chewy type, and these are the classics that everyone knows and loves. They often fall between chewy and fudgy brownies and contain squares of deep chocolate flavor.
They are well structured and crunchy around the edge with a moist, tender, and slightly gooey center. These brownies may contain caramel, fudge or chocolate.
Chocolate brownies are perhaps one of the most popular types of brownies that are made. Chocolate brown is also a timeless classic and an all-time favorite.
Not only do they taste divine, but are quite addictive since they are bursting with chocolate flavor. Brownies can be consumed at any time of the day and is a wonderful mood enhancer.
Lots of brownie lovers choose to include chocolate chips, chunks of chocolate, and other types of chocolate when whipping up their own brownies at home.
Weed or pot brownies
Weed or pot brownies are basically like regular, or chocolate brownies but simply include traces of marijuana.
When you consume these brownies, you won't get the taste of weed, and it will still contain that original chocolatey goodness. However, consuming pot brownies have other benefits as well, aside from making you laugh and get the munchies.
Some of these benefits include helping to control seizures, keeping anxiety at bay, managing pain, giving you a long-lasting high, and saving you money.
How much is toxic for a dog?
It's not as simple as determining the exact levels of toxicity since there are different factors to keep in mind and sometimes the effects will vary based on an individual basis.
However, according to lots of veterinarians, a general rule of thumb is that the toxic levels of chocolate for dogs are as follows.
White chocolate: 45 ounces to 90 ounces per pound of bodyweight. So a 20-pound dog would need to ingest at least 55 pounds to exhibit nervous system signs.
Baking chocolate: 0.1 ounces to 0.3 ounces per pound of bodyweight. So, in this case, the same 20-pound dog would have to ingest 2 ounces to exhibit nervous system signs. And all it takes for a 10-pound dog to exhibit the same signs is 1 ounce of baking chocolate.
Milk chocolate: 0.7 ounces to 2 ounces per pound of bodyweight. So a 20 pound dog that ingests a little less than 1 pound will exhibit nervous system signs.
Semisweet chocolate: 1/3 of an ounce to 1-ounce per bodyweight. In this case, 6 ounces ingested by a 20-pound dog would likely lead to nervous system signs.
When you get all the figures out of the way, bitter and darker chocolate contains higher levels of theobromine, so it's important to determine the type of chocolate ingested and the amount as well.
If your dog has ingested one brownie, it may or may not be lethal. For example, an adult dog may not be affected by consuming one or even half a brownie and will likely throw it up afterward.
However, a small dog that eats half or one brownie could become very sick. However, with treatment, they will likely recover. So basically, the bigger and healthier the dog, the less fatal eating brownies will be.
Alternatively, if a puppy consumes an entire brownie, then it is a cause for concern, and you should reach out to your vet with a sense of urgency.
In the event that your dog consumes an entire pan of brownies, then you definitely should start panicking.
Your dog should be taken to the vet immediately for treatment. Irrespective of whether you have an adult dog or puppy, an entire pan of brownies is absolutely unacceptable and downright dangerous to your dog.
Signs of Toxicity in dogs
As we mentioned repeatedly, chocolate is toxic to dogs.
The symptoms of chocolate poisoning also begin approximately 6 to 12 hours after your dog has ingested it. The worst-case scenario is that a dog who consumes chocolate could die from toxic poisoning.
So here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Frequent or increased urination
- Increased heart rate
These symptoms also depend on the size and weight of the dog and the amount of chocolate that was consumed. Even if the dog that ingested a small amount of chocolate, it could be fatal, especially if the dog is small.
One significant symptom to keep an eye out for is excessive panting in your dog. Although all dogs pant and this is quite normal, excessive panting may be a sign that something is wrong.
So if your dog was panting heavily and labored and they are shaking as well, it could be a stress response or an indication that they've been poisoned.
Excessive panting is also often the result of ingesting something toxic. So if you notice these symptoms in your dog, take him to your vet immediately.
What to do if your dog shows signs of toxicity
Once you've confirmed that your dog has ingested brownies containing chocolate, here's what you should do:
Make a note of all the details
This includes the amount of chocolate ingested, how long ago it was ingested, and the weight of your dog. Thereafter, call your vet immediately.
He or she may or may not ask you to induce vomiting if your dog ingested two hours ago. This is because the brownie is still in the stomach for approximately two hours.
Hydrogen peroxide should be used to help induce vomiting in your dog. Your vet will give you strict instructions on how and how much to give.
Vomiting alone, however, may not be sufficient since the theobromine may still be absorbed. So further treatment may be required, and then you should take him to the vet hospital and bear in mind that there is no anecdote for don't chocolate poisoning; therefore, treatment is supportive and also imperative.
Look out for the symptoms of toxicity
As we mentioned before, some of the symptoms of toxicity include hyperactivity, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and increased urination. If you notice these signs, go to the vet.
Don't wait to see signs of toxicity before taking your dog to the vet. The sooner you get assistance and treatment for the dog, the greater his chances of recovery.
Some of the symptoms may only surface around 12 hours after ingestion, so don't assume that your dog is doing just fine because they're not displaying any signs of toxicity. Therefore as soon as you notice that your dog has ingested chocolate, take him to the vet immediately.
The reality is that you cannot keep an eye on your dog 24 hours a day. And accidents do happen.
However, there are some tips that you can use that will also act as preventative measures. For one, always keep chocolate and candy bars away from your furry friend.
Always have activated charcoal and about 3% of hydrogen peroxide on hand at all times.
Next, the quicker you act after noticing that your dog has ingested chocolate or any dessert containing chocolate, the better his chances of recovery and survival.
Once you've noticed the toxic symptoms or you've found out that your dog has eaten chocolate and your vet is closed, you can always seek help from a 24-hour animal emergency center or the ASPCA poison control ((888) 426-4435).
In the event that you are taking your dog for a walk, and there's something laying on the ground, and your dog due to his curious nature wants to take a nibble, use the “leave it”, command and this will teach your dog to stay away from things that they should not be eating.
Use it often enough so your dog becomes familiar with it and understands what it means.