People are always warning us about how chocolate can be fatal to dogs. If that was the case, I would have had at least three dogs succumb to such poison.
Around Christmas time 1993 a bowl of Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses disappeared off our coffee table at our home in Orange County. We knew it was an inside job, as we hadn’t had any guests that particular day. Each morsel was wrapped in either red, green or silver tinfoil, and you can bet the culprit(s) didn’t bother to unwrap each piece before devouring. At the time we didn’t know that chocolate was very bad for dogs. Since they roamed in a pretty tight pack, we figured all three of our Miniature Schnauzers must have partaken in the heist, with our craftiest, Winnie, more than likely the ringleader. We heard groaning from underneath the bed that night, so we assumed someone was experiencing the after-effects.
For the next couple days we picked up poop in our backyard that was flecked with the colorful tinfoil. I later joked with people that we could have hung those turds on the Christmas tree, they were so festive.
All three dogs lived through that experience with no necessary vet visit, but whether they learned anything was doubtful, so we made a point to keep anything like that out of their reach in the future.
A few years later, after our move to San Diego, the same trio of Schnauzers found $40 worth of See’s candy I had tucked into our closet. I was going to surprise Chuck with it Easter morning. We didn’t realize there was a problem until the boy, Clive, walked up to Chuck and dropped what looked like a doorknob at his feet. Chuck reached down to find a half-eaten Bordeaux Egg. Realizing what had happened, I raced to the closet to find half of the candy gone. The humorous part was that the box the egg had been packed in was still in one piece, not torn or eaten; it was if a dog had carefully opened the once-taped box and lifted out the egg.
The not-so-humorous part was that soon after, there was a virtual lake of diarrhea in our hallway. We called the vet and she informed us that, considering the type of chocolate, their symptoms probably wouldn’t get any worse than what we had already witnessed and cleaned up. She did tell us to monitor the dogs’ behavior for the next day or so.
Massive amounts of chocolate can be fatal. The worst kind of chocolate for dogs is Baker’s chocolate; even just a bit can cause problems. Dark chocolate is next. Milk chocolate produces the least amount of harm, and fortunately in both cases, that was the majority of what they had eaten.
The size of the dog also comes into play. Although “Miniature,” our Schnauzers at the time ranged in weight of 22-28 pounds — and that had nothing to do with forbidden foods; they were just a little bigger than average, is all (we had met their biological parents).
People that go running to the vet after their dog devours a Snickers bar or a handful of chocolate peanuts are alarmists, and could save some money and stress with a little education. If you have a dog, read up on how much and what type of chocolate can harm them, before you find yourself in a questionable and potentially scary situation. No matter how careful we are, sometimes dogs get into things. Being informed ahead of time can save you a lot of angst.
Sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry, but Chuck and I can’t help but chuckle when people gasp at the prospect of a dog ingesting even a fragment of chocolate. “Chocolate is fatal to dogs!,” they exclaim, eyes wide with horror.
“Yeah, that’s because I almost killed those dogs after they broke into $40 worth of See’s candy years ago,” I laugh. I am in no way making light of a potentially fatal situation; I am simply putting people at ease should they ever find themselves in panic mode after their dog happens to take advantage of an unattended chocolate chip cookie.
We have had five other dogs since that first generation of Schnauzers back in the day. We have been extremely careful about keeping certain foods, especially chocolate, out of their reach, but I can almost assure you, each one of our dogs has at some point had chocolate in some form cross their taste buds. No side effects, however, and no emergency vet runs — or “runs” of any other kind, thank goodness.
We’re careful, but we’re not paranoid. Something serious happens to one of our dogs, and we are off to the emergency vet in a flash. In that case the last thing we need is to have to wait because an uneducated and drama-infused pet owner who got there first with their Labrador who chowed down on a handful of Peanut M & M’s.
Education and precaution. You, your pet and your wallet will all benefit.