If you’re anything like us, you’ve been inundated with lovely chocolate presents over Christmas and New Year. This is wonderful unless you own a dog like Narci who would chop off a leg and gladly hand it over in exchange for a slab of Whittaker’s Almond Gold.
Sadly – at least Narci thinks so - chocolate is toxic to Chihuahuas because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine (and Lord knows that dog does not need caffeine!).
If you’re wondering what theobromine is, it’s used as a pharmaceutical diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and muscle relaxant. Chihuahuas (or any dog for that matter) cannot metabolize theobromine or caffeine which means trouble, and in the case of Chihuahuas with their small body mass, sometimes big trouble.
The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to a Chihuahua. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and dangerous. On the other hand, white chocolate barely poses any threat, at all.
So, what are the symptoms? Agitation, hyperactivity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea - all which may smell like chocolate. At high doses, you may see a racing heart rate, high blood pressure, or even heart arrhythmia. At dangerously high doses you’ll see tremors, twitching, and even seizures. And yes, it can be fatal. Complications like aspiration pneumonia from vomiting are possible and can make the prognosis for chocolate poisoning even worse.
When in doubt, get your dog to a vet. How do you know if the amount is poisonous? Well, we’ve added a Chocolate Toxicity Calculator to our website, so you can check any time you need to. Just add the rough amount of chocolate and the type with your Chihuahua’s weight and it will tell you if you need emergency assistance. You're welcome:)
If your dog does eat chocolate, treatment depends on the amount and type eaten. If treated early, by inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to block absorption of theobromine may be all that’s needed. Your Chihuahua might also need IV fluids and to be hospitalised to watch for further signs of agitation, vomiting, diarrhoea, nervousness, irregular heart rhythm, or high blood pressure. Sometimes beta-blockers to slow the heart rate may be necessary to treat the elevated heart rate and arrhythmia.
Bottom line – keep your chocolate away from your Chihuahua and that means being really crafty because if they develop a taste for it - like Narci - they can be very determined and this is one battle of wits with your Chihuahua you absolutely have to win.