Dogs vs chocolates | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Dr. Jane Galvez and a dog patient at the clinic. photograph by Leilani Adriano
Dr. Jane Galvez and a dog patient at the clinic. photograph by Leilani Adriano

“Death by chocolate” isn’t just an expression; it can be a real tragedy for your pooch

The next time you plan to give your dog a treat, forget about how so much alike you’ve grown to be.  Chocolates may be just what you need for a feel-good rush, but unless you want a sick pet on your hands, nix the choco boost and go for a T-bone instead!

Any type of chocolate – yes, any type – could intoxicate your beloved pooches, according to a long-time veterinarian from Laoag City. Chocolates are extremely dangerous for dogs, and overeating these sweet temptations could cause them extremely severe health issues or worse, even death.

“Chocolates are really poisonous to dogs because of this certain compound called methyl saltine derivatives,” said Dr. Jane Galvez, a veterinarian specializing in small animals, who also manages a clinic for pet grooming and health maintenance.  “Mostly it’s a theobromine and caffeine component.”

A naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, theobromine affects the central nervous system and the heart muscle. It can be considered poisonous to dogs because they metabolize this substance very slowly.  Theobromine can stay in your dog’s bloodstream for up to 20 hours, during which time it interferes with the body’s functioning, stimulating the central nervous system and affecting the heart and kidneys

According to Galvez, a dog’s intake of chocolate can be lethal even at 100 grams.  “The smaller the dog, the more toxic the chocolate is because the toxicity level is based on body weight. Kahit konti lang ang makain ng maliit na aso, mas madali siyang mamatay. (For a small dog, even a tiny bit of chocolate can lead to death).”

For humans, chocolate is a quick energy booster, but for all types of dogs, they are lethal, and the effects are immediate because chocolates are highly absorbable, she added.

“More often than not, dog owners are not aware of this,” the vet said, stressing the need, especially for new pet owners, to be educated on what’s needed for a pet’s proper care, and what’s good and bad for it. “Once you get an animal, please do some research. Having a pet doesn’t start and end with buying an animal and taking it home. You have to take responsibility for its life and for caring for it.”  This awareness is especially crucial, she added, in situations where animals are given as gifts to children. The new pet owners should realize that animals are not inanimate toys.

The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs are distressing to witness, more so if all the pet owner wanted was to give the pooch a sweet treat. The symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems, nervous and cardiac problems, among others.  The tragedy, veterinarians are quick to underscore, is that there is no antidote for this. The only remedy to dog poisoning, Galvez said, is to try to control or minimize the toxic absorption.

“If the dog is brought to a vet within two to three hours after eating chocolate and the poisoning is diagnosed early enough, it may still be possible to get the dog to vomit and thus expel the chocolate,” Dr. Galvez explained.  “Beyond that, the poison would have reached the gastrointestinal tract and it becomes more difficult to reverse the effects.  The only way to do it would be to induce dieresis to eliminate the toxic absorption.”

Many times, though, the damage is irreversible and can lead to tragedy.

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