Chocolate poodle Baci knows he's not allowed to eat sweets, especially chocolate.
Chocolate poodle Baci knows he's not allowed to eat sweets, especially chocolate.

Eating off the menu

MOST folks know chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, especially dark or cooking chocolate.

In fact, judging from calls I get, people tend to overestimate its dangers if anything, which is certainly better than underestimating the hazard.

There is even a nifty chocolate toxicity calculator which I have on my mobile which calculates the total dose of caffeine and theobromine, factors in the type of chocolate and the dog's weight and tells me how concerned I need to be.

For example, if a 10kg dog eats 150gm of milk chocolate, then it has had a dose of 31mg of theobromine, which is enough to make the heart beat abnormally fast and it needs to be checked by a vet. However, the same amount of sweet dark chocolate could be fatal.

Alternatively, a 30kg doggy eating the same amount of milk chocky should be fine.

Less well known, but more dangerous to dogs is the artificial sweetener xylitol.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol sugar commonly used in low calorie chewing gums, diet cake and biscuit mixes.

It is highly toxic for dogs.

Two potentially lethal effects in the dog are hypoglycemia and liver necrosis. The dog pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin.

But this insulin rush only serves to make the real blood glucose levels plummet, causing anything from weakness through to seizures and coma.

A stick of chewing gum contains up to 0.4gm of xylitol, which means a 5kg dog could be poisoned by one and a half sticks of gum.

Liver necrosis occurs at about 10 times a higher dose. It means liver cells are killed, similar to acute alcohol poisoning.

So a 5kg dog would have to eat a whole packet of gum to get liver necrosis.

In the only case I have seen, a dog ate a Weight Watchers style of cake containing xylitol.

Urgent veterinary attention is necessary in cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs - which means - get your dog to the vet urgently.

 

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