By now, it should be common knowledge to all pet owners that chocolate is potent to our canine pals. Just the slightest amount of exposure to chocolate could send their internal system into a whole lot of shock, and in worst cases, even death.
Moreover, with White Day just around the corner, it can seem tempting to treat our dogs to a few nibbles here and there to our delectable white chocolates. As pet owners, we understand — all we want to do is spoil our pups with all the tastiest treats. Unfortunately, we hate to break it to you but one seemingly innocent bite of chocolate is enough to spell disaster for your precious pupper. The last thing we want is for your dog to end up in the emergency room over a piece of confectionery.
Dangers of Chocolate Consumption in Canines
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The main reason why chocolate is so dangerous to dogs stems from the theobromine and caffeine content found in the confectionery. Dogs aren’t adept at metabolising these components effectively. Thus, it makes dogs more sensitive and susceptible to these chemicals’ toxic effects.
A general rule of thumb regarding chocolates and dogs is that: the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is to dogs.
For a clearer picture, here’s a broad overview:
|Theobromine Content in Chocolates|
|Gourmet dark chocolate||130 – 450 mg/ounce|
|Common milk chocolate||44 – 58 mg/ounce|
|White chocolate||0.25 mg/ounce|
Although the theobromine content in white chocolate is significantly lesser, this still does not warrant feeding it to your dog, however little the quantity.
For further clarifications, here are the stages of theobromine toxicity:
|Symptoms of Theobromine Toxicity|
|20 mg/kg||Agitation, hyperactivity, increased thirst, excessive urination, gastrointestinal issues i.e. drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea|
|40 mg/kg||Cardiac conditions i.e. rapid heart rate, hypertension, heart arrhythmias|
|60 mg/kg||Neurological conditions i.e. tremors, twitching, seizures|
What Can I Feed My Dog Then?
Now that we’ve established the dangers of chocolates to canines, what are some good treat alternatives to pamper our pooch?
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Well, do we have good news for you! If you weren’t already aware, there is actually a dog-safe chocolate substitute called carob available for our puppers! Found in many gourmet dog treats, carob tastes and smells exactly like chocolate.
Given that it’s a natural product, there are no sweeteners or additives present. Moreover, it has a naturally low content of fat and zero caffeine. It’s chock full of beneficial nutrients like Vitamins A, B, D and other important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and protein. Additionally, it provides a good source of fibre and pectin which help your dog flush toxins out of its body.
Overall, this seems like a fair bargain for all the delicious chocolates that your dog is unfortunately not allowed to taste.
Canine Cakes and Cupcakes
Moving up the tier of doggy confectionaries, we have dog-friendly cakes and cupcakes. Just like for humans, doggie cakes and cupcakes are meant to remember those special milestones of your doggy’s life — from adoption days to birthdays, all these significant dates are definitely worth celebrating!
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Available in all shapes and sizes, these crunchy biscuits are everything a dog could ever ask for — from delectable flavours like peanut butter and bacon (bonus for its crunchy texture), that’s a pretty solid treat right there. I’m sure your pup would gladly thank you for the reward with a few hearty chomps; and before you know it, it’s gone down the hatchet.
Gourmet biscuits with dog-safe icing options are also available from specialised dog bakeries for those special occasions.
Now for its softer counterpart, chewy treats are equally as versatile in flavours and shapes; albeit they tend to be on the smaller side. They’re often perfect for quick and efficient training sessions to adequately reward your dog’s desirable behaviour while simultaneously minimising distraction from the ongoing training itself. For highly food-motivated dogs however, you might want to hide the treats well during training sessions if not the treats will be gobbled down in a jiffy.
While these treats are great for smaller dogs, medium or bigger dogs might need a more substantial treat than these.
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Freeze-dried or Jerky
Now, if your dog is fidgety or gets easily bored, jerky strips might just be the perfect solution for your pupper! They’re great at keeping your doggo company for an inordinate period of time because they’re hardier than other treats, thus lasting longer.
Typically, freeze-dried and jerky treats are available in an assortment of flavours like meat, poultry and even seafood. It comes as no surprise that these juicy and tender treats are a hot favourite among our doggos.
Nevertheless, it’s always advisable to do prior research on the reputability of a brand and its ingredients used before purchase. In recent years, there have been higher incidences of FDA recalls on particular brands for causing health issues in dogs after ingesting them.
Oof, is your dog’s breath kind of stinky? If that’s the case, why not kill two birds with one stone by giving it tasty dental treats to freshen those canine teeth and breath.
Dental treats typically cover a plethora of varieties like rawhide chews, dental chews and bones. Rawhide chews tend to be sourced from cows or horses while dental chews tend to be made from corn starch or other edibles. Either way, both types promote doggy dental health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup in a dog’s mouth.
However, pet lovers beware! Experts have advised that dental treats aren’t entirely safe for canine consumption. Rawhide and dental chews can pose a danger to dogs with aggressive chewing. If chewed too quickly or vigorously, they might accidentally break off a big chunk and end up choking on it. These gastrointestinal blockages can escalate to become fatal quickly and need immediate medical attention.
Nonetheless, depending on the dog’s jaw and biting habits, the size of the chews matter. Constant supervision is highly encouraged when your dog is nom-ing away on a good piece.
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If all else fails, human food can never go wrong. Feeding your dog human food allows you to better know and control what your dog eats — like restricting the seasoning and sauce content. Recommended foods include fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, watermelon, green beans, carrots and sweet potatoes to name a few. Conversely, foods that should be avoided include grapes, raisins, avocados and garlic. To be on the safe side, consult your local veterinarian first to clarify what human foods are appropriate for your dog.
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At the end of the day, it’s only natural for pet owners to want to pamper our fur babies as much as possible. As much as we want to shower them with love, it’s also equally important to exercise caution to give our pooches the best quality of life.
- Figures adapted from Brutlag, A. Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs, LifeLearn-cliented. Retrieved February 26, 2021 from http://www.lifelearn-cliented.com/iframe.php?action=view&c=13929-2021022635747-1df2ae11d2cfb05ccc1a3abbc146fb77&clinic=6419&rid=537.
- Refer to above footnote