It’s Halloween time, and that means one thing: everyone stuffing their cabinet with chocolate under the guise of “just stocking up for Halloween.” Except then you have to open the bag for inspection, just to check that it didn’t melt or anything on the way home from the store, and that no one put razor blades in it. Safety first, after all.
So by October 20th, you’ve exhausted that first bag, and then you have to get a couple more; can’t wait until the last day, since of course the stores will RUN OUT if you wait too long, right? Or you might have to- god forbid- hand out gross candy like those circus peanuts, and you can’t have that either.
My point is, somewhere around mid-October many households in the country (it CAN’T just be mine) are littered with half-empty bags of mini chocolates that are usually safely hidden but just might accidentally wind up somewhere a little too low on the shelf for questing noses.
Dogs are predatory creatures. They have nothing else to do while you’re watching Dancing with the Stars than sniff around in search of that one lone piece of candy that escaped your attention. They spend the entire holiday season just waiting for an opening, one little opportunity.
So what do you do when you find Fido with his nose covered in Kit Kat crumbs? After blaming your husband for leaving the bag out, I mean.
While chocolate toxicity can cause death in high enough doses, the most common reaction to chocolate overdose is an upset stomach. So take a breath, gather the wrappers, and assess the situation.
The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine, which acts as a stimulant. The toxic effects are dose dependent and dependent on how much cocoa is in the chocolate. A small dog who eats baking chocolate will be much more likely to show toxic effects than a big German Shepherd who eats one milk chocolate Hershey’s kiss.
Get as accurate an approximation as you can as to how much chocolate your pet ate, as well as the type of chocolate. To get an idea as to how much chocolate is generally considered toxic for a dog the size of yours, you can check out this handy little calculator:
(Note: These dosages are guidelines and can vary from pet to pet, so don’t let an online chocolate calculator be a substitute for the advice of your vet. But you already knew that.)
If there’s any doubt, call your vet. Some people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at putting internet-derived peroxide concoctions down their dog’s throat after the family lab ate 4 or 5 M&Ms when they could have saved themselves a lot of time and risk just by calling the vet for advice.
Buy more chocolate. You deserve it after all that stress. Just make sure to hide it in a locked cabinet.
I feel quite lucky to have a dog who, when she finds food that’s not in her dietary repertoire, throws and thrashes around things like chocolate candies before deciding whether or not to eat them (usually not). It gives me enough time to realize she has something she’s not supposed to and to snatch it from her. She does this a lot with stray grapes that fall unnoticed to the floor and roll under cupboards. Rolling on them and squishing them into the carpet is another of her specialties. It’s like she thinks, “if I’m not allowed to eat it, at least I can play with it.”
LOVE your story, Ashley. That is a REALLY creative dog!
Our cocker spaniel found a 1 pound box under the couch at my in-laws place once. He spent a lot of quality time going in & out for two days, but he survived it and ALWAYS checked that spot for more! I don’t imagine we could get that lucky a second time so we are very careful now with chocolate. And you best advice is, of course, to buy more chocolate – the stress NEVER ends!
My lab/border collie mix ate 2 (!) pounds of dark-chocolate covered cherries when she was about three months old. My Dad had bought them for Christmas for me, wrapped them up, and put them on a high table. She proceeded to unwrap them and eat the entire box. Needless to say, she went to the emergency vets. Everything turned out OK – she lived for 16 more years.
My Dad got an earful from his 9 year old daughter. 🙂
Barbara and Daisy says
Of course, MY Daisy is much too fussy to eat chocolate since most commercial bars have very little actual cocoa in them! But the chemicals might kill yah! Daisy much prefers organic,local, chicken or steak – very discerning dog!
However some of our friends aren’t as fussy. A Lab leads the way of course. A friend’s lab got into most things – edible or not. He had probably built up an immunity by the time he got to the box of chocolates. But he was particular in comparison with another canine friend who eats anything in sight, including cleaning out the kitty litter box. That’s one dog who will NEVER “kiss” me!
How timely! My husband and I were just discussing this very issue last night.
Thank you for your insight. My dog Shiva eats everything. It can be very hard to prevent her from tasting first and asking questions later. Accidents have happened. Since she’s a larger, healthy dog with an apparently good immune system, I try to remind myself not to panic. But it’s not easy.
Pupper ate a one-pound box of Trader Joe’s chocolate covered fruit one year. She’s 65 lbs. and I thought that, well, TJ chocolate-covered stuff always tastes more waxy than chocolatey, so let’s just keep an eye on her. She was fine, although because of the candy-coating her poop had interesting colors for the next several days. We’re always very careful around her and the See’s, though!