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The Dangers of Chocolate

Some of us are killing our canine friends with our misunderstood kindness: we let them feed on our own leftovers and whenever we snack, pooch snacks too. This is where our kindness can so easily become a threat to our faithful friend's life.

Most of us enjoy a piece of chocolate now and then and know that over consumption can lead to weight gain, clogged arteries and rotting teeth. We also realise that when we feed chocolate to Pooch, he runs a risk of developing the same problems. If only it stopped there.

Why Chocolate's Dangerous

Cocoa powder contains Theo bromine, a substance that's tolerated by humans but only a fifth of us realise its toxic potential when fed to dogs. Most dogs will vomit and become extremely restless after eating a large portion of chocolate but even small amounts can be lethal.

A dog's metabolism works differently to ours and isn't effective at ridding itself of Theo bromine; the compounds are taken up by the liver and transmitted back into the intestine where they continue on another circuit through the dog. This repeats itself several times so ridding itself of the toxins the dog keeps re-poisoning itself. A certain amount will stay in the dog's system, increasing for every piece he's fed.  When you next feed your dog chocolate the Theo bromine residue will increase the likelihood that you'll one day wake up to find Pooch either dead in his basket or suffering seizures as he leaves your side forever.

A Little Can Kill

Just 100 - 150g of rich, dark chocolate, equal to a small bar, is enough to kill a Chihuahua, a toy poodle and other miniature breeds whereas it would generally take around 400g to kill a dog the size of a Labrador, unless the dog is particularly susceptible. Milk chocolate is less toxic but a 250g bar could still kill a small dog.

Small amounts are less likely to be fatal but because of the build-up of toxins in the body, a little fed to even the largest dog on a regular basis will eventually lead to serious problems.

Not Just Chocolate

Although chocolate is the main cause of Theo bromine toxicosis, the recent interest in garden makeovers has also brought with it a new concern.

Cocoa shell mulch, which has a very attractive and appetising smell to dogs, contains a strong concentration of Theo bromine and should never be used in gardens where dogs have access.

Doggie Chocs

While many doggie chocs are safe, the truth is that some too contain small amounts of Theo bromine. The golden rule here is 'little and seldom', chocolate for dogs is not the best form of treats, so we recommend to simply steer clear and go for biscuit and chew treats.

Symptoms

Watching a beloved pet suffer from anything that causes him pain or distress is always disturbing, but knowing that a faithful friend is suffering because of our own misunderstood kindness is extremely harrowing.

Typical symptoms of Theo bromine overdose are vomiting, palpitations, restlessness, raised heartbeat, breathing difficulties, increased thirst and muscle seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms it's important you contact a vet immediately as your dog could quickly slip into a coma with death to follow.

Let's be proud to be part of nation of animal lovers and show genuine compassion for our four-legged friends by telling them firmly no when they beg us to share our chocolate with them. Just as we wouldn't eat Pooch's doggy treats, he shouldn't eat ours.

Copyright PetClub UK Ltd. 2006

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