This morning sure felt crisp! There’s no doubt about it, autumn is here in West Central Indiana, and my brain is starting to think about leaves turning and pumpkins and harvest. Meanwhile my stomach is thinking about candy corn and caramel apples and gobs of Halloween chocolates. And yummy pumpkin lattes (they totally live up to the hype!! You should try one. Get me one, too.)
My Labrador retriever, Hank, loves this time of year, too. He just can’t wait until Halloween night, when he can sneak a piece of chocolate or two (or twelve) from the kids’ trick-or-treat bags.
Many owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but we also know that many dogs eat an M&M here and there and live to tell about it. So when do we worry? When do you call your veterinarian?
Chocolate toxicity is one of the top 20 poisons that we see in our canine friends. It is a combination of caffeine and a chemical called theobromine that causes the problem. Dogs are very sensitive to these (more-so than humans), and owners will see a hyper, easily excitable dog. This excitability can progress to seizures, increased heart rate, vomiting and even death.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of the toxic chemicals. This means that your dog has to eat less of it to see these effects. Dark chocolate is the most toxic, and white chocolate the least toxic.
Your best bet is to catch it as early as possible, make note of your dog’s symptoms and a good assessment of how much he ate, and then call your veterinarian for advice.
Sometimes as veterinarians we need to encourage a dog to vomit, or control seizures with anti-seizure drugs, or give oral medications to help protect the stomach or the heart. Sometimes bloodwork is necessary or even IV fluids to help keep a dog hydrated until the caffeine and theobromine leave his system.
Each case is very individual and most turn out well with the help of your other family doctor! Here’s to wishing you a safe and happy fall season!