I Know Chocolate is Bad, But Why?

theobromine poisoning

theobromine poisoningNow that you have your Easter basket full of chocolate bunnies and eggs, it is hard not to share with your four legged friend. Your dog seems to like chocolate, so it can’t be that bad for her, right? Wrong. Chocolate is very bad for dogs. No matter how much they like it or beg for it, chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

The part of chocolate that is poison to your dog is called theobromine. Theobromine is found in chocolate and is similar to caffeine. People are able to metabolize theobromine but dogs process it much slower than their human companions. This allows the toxicity levels to build up in their system.

Different types of chocolate contain different levels of theobromine. So not all chocolate is created equal. Typically the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the theobromine level. Because the toxicity in your dog is based on the quantity they ingest and their relative size, a larger dog can eat more chocolate before getting sick than a smaller dog. Of course, the bottom line is, they will both get sick.

We often get asked, “What if my dog eats a little bit?” Typically a small amount of chocolate won’t hurt them too much, it may just give them an upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhea. In large quantities, it can cause:

  • muscle tremors
  • seizures
  • arrhythmia, aka. irregular heartbeat
  • internal bleeding
  • heat attack
  • hyperactivity

They typical treatment for chocolate poisoning is to induce vomiting within 2 hours of the dog eating the chocolate. If it has been longer, your vet may need to treat using other methods. DO NOT induce vomiting in your dog. Inducing vomiting in your dog can cause other problems. Call poison control or your Albuquerque vet immediately to find out what you can do. If you have a small dog that has eaten a lot of chocolate, take them to an emergency vet clinic immediately.

The amount of chocolate may not seem a lot to you, but it is all dependent on the amount of theobromine in it. A one ounce piece of dark chocolate can be enough to poison a 44 lb. dog. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if your pup is begging for some of your Easter chocolate, give them a dog safe dog treat instead.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Deadly dog jerky

Deadly dog jerkyKidney disease, also known as renal failure, happens in 9 out of every 1000 dogs. That means that kidney failure in dogs is fairly common. It can happen to dogs of any age though more common in older dogs. The Samoyed, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, German Shepherd, and English Cocker Spaniel are the breeds that are most prone to renal failure, but that doesn’t mean that other breeds are not susceptible. There are a variety of causes of kidney failure in dogs not limited to breeds, which can include kidney disease, urinary blockages, some prescription medications, diabetes, lymphoma, and genetics. Certain breeds are also more disposed to renal failure:

Kidney failure is not something that necessarily happens quickly, though once the symptoms start showing it can seem to be progressing very quickly. This is because as the kidney’s start to fail other organs in the body will start to compensate while they can. Here are symptoms of renal failure. If you start noticing any of these symptoms, you should call your Albuquerque vet to make an appointment to get your dog evaluated. The earlier renal failure is identified the better the chance of survival.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Acute blindness
  • Seizures
  • Comas
  • Blood in the urine
  • An increase in the frequency and amount of urination

There is no cure for chronic kidney failure. If your dog is diagnosed with renal failure he will likely need to undergo fluid therapy, receive a special kidney diet that is low in protein, high in potassium and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Treatment for Kidney Failure in Dogs. When a dog has kidney failure, dehydration is one of the most pressing issues. You have to make sure your dog stays hydrated. If he is not drinking enough water, you may have to give him fluids subcutaneously, aka. under the skin. The vet will be able to show you how to do this, and this can be done at home.

Renal failure in dogs is progressive. There is no cure, there is only management. If your dog has been diagnosed you will want to monitor him for changes in his health. Work with your vet on the best treatment plan and the best way to manage the disease.

Does My Dog Have A Healthy Weight?

Dog obesity

Dog obesityMost people don’t know if their dog is a healthy weight or if they are overweight. Many times we, as pet owners, think that our dog is healthy when in fact they are fairly obese. I am guilty of it myself. I love fat dogs. I love their fat little bellies and how their who body wiggles when they walk. The reality is that it is not healthy for them. Being overweight can cause a variety of health problems from heart issues to joint issues, as well as shorten their lifespan. It is important for your dog to be in a healthy weight.

Of course, healthy weight changes depending on your dog’s age and breed. Not all dogs are built the same. What is fat for one dog might be a perfect weight for another. If you are wondering how to know if your dog is at a good weight, you should ask your Albuquerque veterinarian during your annual checkup. You can also uses this great tool to see if your dog is in the proper weight range.

If your dog is overweight, there is a lot you can do to get them back into a healthier range. You can change their diet. Many people over feed their dog or need to adjust the kind of food based on your dogs age and activity level. Food that was good for you dog when they were a few years old is not the same as when they get older. Did you know most dogs should be on dog food meant for older dogs by the age of 6 or 7? Dog food for puppies, or young dogs, are much higher in fat. You should speak to your vet about the best diet for your dog. Also, increasing their physical activity. Just like with humans, when you exercise and eat well, you are more likely to lose weight. Plus exercised is good for your dog for their overall physical and mental health, not just for their weight.

As the Spring weather rolls in, this is the perfect time to get a checkup and get your dog on a new diet and exercise regiment.