Poison Safety: What to Do if your Dog Eats Valentine's Chocolates

valentines day

Dogs and chocolate are two of life’s greatest joys. Though by now, most pet owners realize the danger of mixing the two.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the creamy sugary candy is likely to be everywhere. Here’s why chocolate is so harmful to a dog’s little systems and what you can do if Spot gets a heap of the Hershey’s.

Why Is Chocolate So Bad for Dogs?

Processed cocoa beans contain large amounts of theobromine. Unlike humans, dogs lack the enzyme responsible for breaking down and processing the chemical, making it highly poisonous when ingested. In fact, theobromine is so toxic, even relatively small quantities can tax the nervous and cardiovascular systems. This typically results in vomiting and seizures, though congestive heart failure and fatalities have also been reported.

What to Do If My Dog Eats Chocolate?

While the severity of the illness will likely depend on how much your dog weighs compared with how much they’ve eaten, if you suspect Fido has eaten chocolate, it’s best to be proactive. Knowing what to do could just save your pet’s life.

  1. Move chocolate out of reach. Note what kind of chocolate and approximately how much was eaten.
  2. Check for symptoms. Be on the lookout for any heavy breathing, increased heart rate, seizing or vomiting.
  3. Contact your vet or a 24/hour pet poison hotline. Even if your pet isn’t showing signs of immediate distress it’s better to be safe than sorry. The onset could simply be delayed.

Keep in mind that you should never administer any medications or home remedies without first consulting a Veterinarian or medical professional. It could further compound the chocolate’s toxicity or create a harmful reaction on its own.

What Pet Poison Numbers Can I Call?

If your vet is closed and you need help after hours, or if you’re not sure whether to take your pet to the emergency clinic, keep these pet poison hotlines on hand.

  • Pet Poison Helpline– 1-800-213-6680. $39 initial fee with free follow-up calls. Open 365 days a year.
  • ASPCA Pet Poison Helpline– 1-888-426-4435. $65 consultation fee, or free if product is covered by the Animal Product Safety Service. Open 24/7.
  • Kansas State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital– 1-785-532-5679. Free 24-hour poison control hotline.
  • National Animal Poison Control Center at the University of Illinois– 1-800-548-2423. Charges by the case ($30.00) or you can call 1-900-680-0000 and pay $20.00 for the first 5 minutes, with $2.95 per minute for anything over.

This Valentine’s Day, avoid a potential fatal incident by keeping your pooch away from chocolate. Instead, show your pet how much you love them and reward them with their very own all-natural doggie treats!

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