If you own a dog, you probably give them Beggin' Strips, Purina Dog Chow, Iams, Pedigree, or whatever was on your plate that you didn't want. All these are fine choices, but one thing you likely don't give your dog is chocolate. If you haven't been giving your dog chocolate then good, keep up the good work. If you have, please slap yourself. It has always been believed that chocolate is toxic to dogs and any piece of the sweet stuff could mean early retirement for your dog. While it is true that chocolate is toxic, don't think he or she is a goner if you catch them with the stray M&M you dropped on the floor. Still, you must keep the candy bowl far, far away.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs mainly thanks to a chemical called "theobromine." Theobromine is actually toxic to humans too, and cats, but you'd have to eat pounds of chocolate for it to have an effect on you. PSA. don't eat pounds of chocolate. Dogs on the other hand have a different metabolism, and theobromine is metabolized a lot slower, which can allow for the toxins to be absorbed a lot easier. Too much theobromine can cause heart attacks, seizures, tremors, dehydration, diarrhea, internal bleeding, and worse. You as a human wouldn't want any of these things, and I'm most certain your dog wouldn't either. While cats are in as much danger, they're less likely to consume chocolate because most cats have no sweet tooth. Plus, they're cats.
While chocolate should be avoided altogether, the age and size of your dog and the type of chocolate both play a role. Chocolate, or any food, will affect a chihuahua faster than it will affect a golden retriever, and a corgi before it affects a greyhound. White chocolate has some of the lowest levels of theobromine, while cocoa has some of the highest. Dark and fine chocolate should be of the highest concern. (Dark chocolate is nasty anyway).
There are some people who give their dogs chocolate on purpose because they feel it has no affect. While Trixie may still be able to prance around the front yard after half a Hershey, I still wouldn't recommend it, at all...You might as well give your toddler Jose Cuervo and your grandma Draino. PSA. don't do that. Please.
If your dog does happen to stumble upon chocolate, the medical emergency procedure works the same way as it would for a human. Try to induce vomiting, give them water, and go to the vet ASAP. Don't sit and wait for your dog to start howling to decide to grab the keys. Symptoms can take over 6 hours to appear. While small amounts of chocolate can amount to nothing more than a stomach ache, that shouldn't be an assumption. If you have the slightest feeling that your dog swallowed your candy, just make them throw up already, don't wait. Activated charcoal is also good to have around. That industrial stuff binds to the theobromine and help keep it out of the bloodstream.
Other foods that you need to keep out of your dog's mouth include grapes, onions, cheese, apple cores, alcohol, mushrooms, raw eggs (your dog is not Rocky), and avocados, all mostly for the same reasons: chemicals that are fine for us, but not for them. It's basic chemistry people.
Next time it's your cheat day and you're enjoying a nice slice (or two, or three) of double chocolate layer cake, and Trixie is sitting on your lap giving you a puppy dog face, you and Trixie both have to tough it out. Do not give your dog that cake. Give her this.
*photos courtesy of Tumblr, Canine Club LA. Citations: Web MD, Hillspet, Pet Parents, Today I Found Out, Food Beast.