A couple years ago around Halloween, we had a dog come into the vet that had eaten an entire 5 pound bag of assorted mini chocolate bars. Luckily, the owners realized what had happened pretty soon after the chocolate consumption had occurred and we were able to induce vomiting. Within a matter of minutes perfectly wrapped Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Butterfingers, and Mars Bars were vomited back up from our woebegone patient.
We like to get scientific at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care so we weighed what came back up – exactly 5 pounds! Gross, yet impressive. It probably will surprise no one that the dog was a Labrador.
Of course, chocolate is toxic to dogs. And it’s not just Labradors that will eat a staggering amount of chocolate. We treat dogs for chocolate ingestion of all shapes, sizes, ages, and breeds. The darker the chocolate the worse it is for them. In fact, if a dog eats enough of the wrong kind of chocolate and remains untreated, it can be fatal. But try explaining this to your dog – they won’t listen. Dogs are clever and determined creatures. Combine this with a spectacular olfactory system and Halloween becomes a game of wits between you and your canine friend.
So how do you protect your pooch and save yourself a trip to the vet emergency room? You have to get really good at protecting and hiding your chocolate! Here are a few suggestions:
- Probably the most obvious place – the refrigerator. But you know your dog best. So if your pet has ever gotten into the fridge behind your back do not depend on this as a safe hiding place!
- Up high in a cupboard. Waaaaay out of reach.
- Some of our employees hide their chocolate in the microwave. This is okay until you accidentally melt your chocolate. Or you leave the treats on the counter while heating up some left overs and Rover jumps up and has dessert while your back is turned.
- A drawer or cupboard that can be locked.
- Remember to throw away partially eaten chocolate and candy in a pet secure trashcan or immediately take it to an outdoor trash can.
- Even with a good hiding place you really need to practice vigilance, especially on Halloween night when candy is left out for trick or treaters.
Last but not least, if you have children in your household make sure they understand that chocolate and candy can make your dog very sick. While chocolate is one of the most common toxins ingested by pets, other kinds of candy can cause stomach upset, wrappers can get caught in a pet’s throat or intestines, and candy containing Xylitol can lead to low blood sugar and liver failure. Have a conversation with your kids about the risks of leaving their candy out or dropping wrappers on the floor. A great way to help kids remember is to include them in finding the perfect hiding place for the Halloween candy.
If you think your dog has eaten chocolate call your veterinarian immediately. Chocolate is bad for cats too but they are much less likely to eat it than dogs. The signs of chocolate toxicity are:
- Loss of appetite
- Restlessness and hyper activity or lethargy
- Rapid breathing
I hope these tips have helped! Where do you hide your chocolate? Let me know in the comments!
Erin Selby is the Communications Coordinator and Social Media Director at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon, CA. A lover of all animals great and small, she is especially fond of the mysterious yet cuddly feline. =^.^=
Have a pet related question or a topic you would like to see covered? Email her at email@example.com!