CLOSE
Original image

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Original image

Puppy image via Shutterstock

I grew up with a series of dogs that were shameless food moochers. Max, our German Shepherd-Black Lab mix, was once left on his own in the house while the humans were having a backyard cookout. Poor Aunt Sophie went in to get something from the kitchen and found Max standing on the kitchen table, working his way in a circle around the top of her homemade bundt cake. Needless to say, the utmost precaution had to be taken with certain foods the dogs couldn’t have. Chocolate bars were transported under the cover of darkness and consumed only when a room had been cleared and locked down.

Why the trouble? Chocolate is toxic to dogs and a number of other animals because it contains alkaloid chemicals called methylxanthines - namely, theobromine (3,7-dimethylxanthine) and caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine). Both of these stimulate the nervous and cardiovascular systems. It’s an effect that humans seek out, and we can get away with it because we metabolize the chemicals relatively quickly. Other animals process them more slowly, so the effects are more pronounced.

If a dog eats too much theobromine and caffeine, they’ll start to show a number of symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, muscle spasms, excessive panting, hyperactive behavior, seizures and dehydration. They may become hyperthermic, go into respiratory failure or experience cardiac arrhythmia, all of which can cause death.

So, how much chocolate is too much for a dog? Depends on the size of the dog, and the kind of chocolate. The amount of methylxanthines in chocolate varies among different chocolate products and brands. In general, though, dry cocoa powder has the most, with around 800 milligrams per ounce, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate (~450 mg/oz), semisweet and sweet dark chocolate (~150-160 mg/oz) and milk chocolate (~64 mg/oz) follow.

Based on their experience and research, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center considers 100 to 200 milligrams of methylxanthines per kilogram of dog to be a lethal dose. Mild symptoms can happen with doses as small as 20 mg/kg and severe symptoms, including seizures, can happen at 40-60 mg/kg. Given those numbers, as little as four ounces of dark chocolate could cause problems for a average-sized, 60lb Labrador Retriever, America’s most popular breed. How much chocolate can your dog handle before trouble starts? National Geographic has a handy calculator to figure out the amount based on your dog’s weight and the type of chocolate.

If a dog does eat a toxic dose of chocolate, there’s not much that can be done for it outside of a vet’s office if the methylxanthines make it into the dog’s bloodstream and start circulating through the body. In her book, Help!: The Quick Guide to First Aid for Your Dog, veterinarian Michelle Bamberger recommends slowing or stopping this process by the body by trying to make the dog vomit. Don’t try sticking your fingers down its throat, though. Instead, feed it a small dose (a teaspoon) of hydrogen peroxide or table salt. Your vet can handle things from there, and treatment usually involves giving the dog activated charcoal to bind to the toxins and using intravenous fluid therapy to flush them out.

Methylxanthines in chocolate are toxic for other animals, too. Cats are especially susceptible because of their small size. Luckily for them, cats lack the taste receptors that pick up “sweet” tastes, and rarely have much motivation for eating more than a nibble or two of chocolate. Both horses and humans are less susceptible to chocolate toxicity thanks to their size and faster metabolization of the chemicals. Methylxanthine poisoning can still happen to people who consume large amounts of chocolate or coffee in a small timeframe, though, and the amount of caffeine in a strong cup of coffee is enough to cause symptoms in a small child.

Original image
IKEA
arrow
Animals
Get IKEA's New Pet Furniture Collection for Not a Lot of Scratch
Original image
IKEA

The biggest surprise about IKEA's newest product line is that it has taken this long to debut. This week, the North American arm of the Swedish furniture giant unveiled a new assortment of furniture designed specifically for four-legged customers. Dubbed LURVIG (Swedish for “hairy”), pet owners can now browse IKEA aisles for everything from dog beds to cat scratching posts—many of which have a distinct IKEA twist.

Their pet couch ($49.95), for example, folds out into a bed; another bed is small enough to slide under a human-sized mattress. Their “cat house on legs” ($54.95) looks like a retro TV and allows space for a cat to stalk you from behind a screen.

An assortment of IKEA pet furniture
IKEA

The retailer solicited advice from veterinarians on product design that would be functional while sitting comfortably within the IKEA aesthetic. “It is quite important for IKEA to have a pet range that fits into our normal furniture range,” Barbara Schäfer, IKEA’s product risk assessment leader, told Curbed. “As a pet owner I can say, so far, the normal pet products are quite ugly.” (Don't hold back, Barbara.)

The LURVIG line is currently being rolled out to IKEA stores, but you’ll have to be willing to be your furry pal’s personal shopper; the company doesn’t allow pets in their stores, save for service animals.

[h/t Curbed]

Original image
Mark Imhof
arrow
Animals
Meet the New York City Groomer Giving Free Haircuts to Help Shelter Dogs Get Adopted
Original image
Mark Imhof

Mark “The Dog Guy” Imhof works as an animal groomer in New York City, but his job entails more than just making pets look good on the outside. For the dogs that need his services most, a bath and a haircut can do wonders for their mood and potentially change their lives. That’s why when Imhof isn’t primping pets for his business, he’s offering his services for free to shelter dogs who are looking to get adopted.

The idea to start grooming rescue dogs struck Imhof when he adopted his first pit bull Cleo with his fiancée. “[She] was so utterly defeated when we brought her home,” he tells Mental Floss. “A simple shower just lifted her spirits and we thought, wouldn’t it be great if someone could go groom shelter animals? And it became me.”

Since then, Imhof has done pro bono work for dozens of adoptable pups in the New York City area, and of those dapper dogs many have gone home to loving families. Most of those who are still waiting to get adopted can be found at the Animal Care Centers of New York City.

The project has been ongoing for two years, and the demand for canine makeovers doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. “The shelter workers and other incredible volunteers and foster parents of the animals all love to help get the animal looking better so it can find its furever (forever) home,” Imhof says.

Check out some of the before and after images from his Instagram below.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios