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.