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Be sweet to your dogs: Keep them away from chocolate on Valentine’s Day

PARAMUS, NJ — With Valentine’s Day approaching, the doctors at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Paramus, NJ want to remind pet families that chocolate is toxic to dogs. 

“Those sweet morsels that are such a delight for us can be fatal to dogs,” said Dr. Benjamin Davidson, medical director of BluePearl in New Jersey. “If you, or a member of your family receive chocolates on Valentine’s Day, please ensure that it is stored in a safe location away from where your dog can reach them.”

Chocolate left on counters or tables can be easily reached by your furry family members, Instead, store it out of your dog’s reach such as in a cabinet, in the refrigerator or on the top shelf of a high standing kitchen cabinet or pantry.

Chocolate toxicity in dogs

Chocolate contains substances (caffeine and theobromine) that are toxic to dogs. The amount of theobromine in the chocolate varies with the type of chocolate. Baking chocolate contains the most, whereas white chocolate has the smallest amount. According to Dr. Davidson, the risk of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate ingested, the amount of chocolate eaten and the weight of your dog.

Signs of toxicity

Common signs of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased activity
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Collapse
  • Death

When should I call my vet?

If your dog eats chocolate, we recommend calling your family veterinarian immediately. You will need to tell them what type of chocolate was ingested, how much was eaten and your dog’s weight. Most often, your veterinarian will have you bring your dog in, or you may be referred to an emergency facility.

At the clinic, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam, check the dog’s blood pressure. In some cases, the vet will want to perform an EKG and may take blood to check certain values in your dog’s blood. Vomiting may be induced and a charcoal product may be given. If signs of toxicity are noted, the veterinarian will often recommend hospitalization so that your dog can be monitored and treated.

“With just a little bit of prevention, you can avoid an emergency that could endanger your dog’s life,” said Dr. Davidson. “All of us at BluePearl Veterinary Partners Paramus hope that all members of your family – whether they have two legs or four — have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.”