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Ate Chocolate

Poodle Ate Chocolate

Poodle Question: I had a close call the other day when I was baking, a chocolate chip fell onto the floor and my Poodle, Bella, tried to eat it. 

She is a toy Poodle and weighs roughly 8 pounds. She had it in her mouth, but I was able to take it out, thank goodness. 

My question is actually 3 questions. Would my Poodle get sick if she ate just a little bit of chocolate? And although I've heard it a million times that dogs should not eat it, why is that? And finally, if I was not able to get that piece out of her mouth, what should I have done? 

Thanks in advance! ~ Neil and Sharon
Answer: Hi Neil and Sharon. We are very happy to hear that your Poodle did not ingest the piece of chocolate. It is very true that all dogs, including Poodles, must not ingest any chocolate. 

All forms of chocolate contain a chemical called Theobromine. This is a stimulant and can be compared to caffeine. It is this chemical that causes dog to become very ill or even pass away if it is ingested. Theobromine is present in all types of chocolate, however it is found in varying degrees. 

Therefore, the size of your Poodle, the type of chocolate that she ate and the amount would all be factors in how ill she would have become. 

A dog would need to eat roughly 2 tablespoons of chocolate to become ill. And 1 ounce of chocolate chips equals 2 and 1/2 tablespoons. Milk chocolate (the type found in Hershey bars, etc) has 45 mg of theobromine in each ounce. It is toxic to a dog when 1 ounce is eaten for each pound of body weight. Therefore, since Bella weighs 8 pounds, she would have been poisoned if she ate 8 ounces of this (20 tablespoons).

However all owners must know that allowing a Poodle to eat any amount is risky. Semi-sweet contains the next highest amount. It has between 150 and 250 mg of theobromine in each ounce (depending on the brand and quality). This is toxic to dogs when 1 ounce is ingested for every 4 pounds of body weight. 

 Therefore, with your Poodle weighing 8 pounds, she would only have needed to ingest 2 ounces of this (5 tablespoons). Baker's chocolate has the next highest levels with 450 mg for each ounce. It is toxic to dogs at 1 ounce for each 10 pounds of body weight. With Bella weighing only 8 pounds, she would only need to ingest less than 2 tablespoons.

Plain cocoa beans are the most toxic form of chocolate for a dog. It contains a whopping 450 to 1500 mg of theobromine for each ounce (depending on the brand and quality of the beans). This is toxic to a Poodle at an alarming 3/4 ounce for every 10 to 33 pounds of body weight (again, depending on the quality of the beans). Bella would only need to ingest approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons to become very ill. If your Poodle ever ingests chocolate by accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. This is true even if she were to eat less than the toxic amounts mentioned above. 

This is because:
  • She may have eaten more than you realized
  • If she had not recently had a meal and her stomach was empty, a smaller amount could do damage
  • Lower amounts may not be life threatening, but can cause severe vomiting and/or diarrhea, which then in turn can cause dehydration and other medical issues.
In large enough amounts a Poodle would:
  • Develop arrhythmia ( problems with heart rate)
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Possibly have seizures
Without immediate treatment, a Poodle would then:
  • Slip into a coma
  • Possibly pass away
If your Poodle ever eats any chocolate by accident, bring her to the nearest veterinarian or animal hospital. The veterinarian will induce vomiting if it has been less than 2 hours since the chocolate was ingested. If more than 2 hours has passed, the theobromine would then be in the dog's blood system. In this case, activated charcoal is given to the dog to help absorb the toxin. 

In most cases, many doses of this must be given, over and over until as much of the theobromine as possible is removed. It takes roughly 15 hours for the chemical to be removed from the dog's body. In many cases, it is important for a dog to stay in an animal hospital for a minimum of 24 hours so that doctors can observe and treat any symptoms, and symptom such as seizures can develop within 72 hours after a dog ingests chocolate.
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