Valentine’s Day is synonymous with hearts, flowers and—of course—chocolate. And we all want to share our joy with our furry friends. You can go ahead and share your heart as much as you like, but your dog won’t likely care much for flowers.

Chocolate is a different story, however, and regardless of how much Fifi begs for a taste, you shouldn’t give in and allow her to have any. Not only is it bad for her teeth, and February is National Pet Dental Health month so we’re super-focused on pet dental care right now, but it could be downright deadly for her.

Why is Chocolate for Dogs So Dangerous?

Chocolate is made from the roasted seeds of the cocoa plant (Theobroma cacao), which contains theobromine and caffeine. These are both methylxanthines or stimulants derived from xanthic acid, which acts on the respiratory and cardiac systems in the body. In humans this isn’t significant, but in dogs it can cause toxicity and seizures that can be fatal.

My Dog Ate Chocolate. What Now?

Of course, dogs don’t realize this—they just think chocolate is one more delicious human treat they aren’t allowed to enjoy. So when your dog gets the opportunity, chances are good she will tuck in with gusto and eat as much of your Valentine’s gift as she has time to devour. If that happens, keep a close eye on her and if she displays any of the following symptoms, get her to our Apex NC animal hospital as soon as possible:

  • Initial signs – vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness
  • Critical signs – hyperactivity, tremors and seizures

If she doesn’t get timely medical attention for the critical signs she may develop chocolate toxicosis, which can cause heart arrest, coma or respiratory failure. Even if she doesn’t become critical and recovers from her “dietary indiscretion,” long-term complications can include pancreatitis. Some dogs are more sensitive to methylxanthines than others, and in such cases just one ounce of chocolate can be a lethal quantity.

Treatment for Chocolate Toxicosis

Your veterinarian will treat the symptoms of chocolate toxicosis as needed, with medication to control seizures and irregular heart beat. Giving your dog fluids will help to speed up the elimination of the stimulants from her system, and keeping her calm and quiet while the treatment works is essential to reduce her level of stimulation.

Valentine’s Day for Dogs

Make this Valentine’s Day a happy one by sticking to your dog’s regular routine, and taking her out for a good long walk before you disappear for that romantic dinner.

Pamper her with a new outfit, a comfy new dog bed or some of her favorite toys. If she’s not on a special dietary program, some delicious doggy treats will make her very happy – you can offer something new and healthy with baby carrot snacks or get her a feeding toy like a Kong and fill it with peanut butter or liver treats.

Keep your furbaby happy and healthy by feeding her like a well-loved dog and making sure she stays away from your Valentine’s treats.