Valentine’s Day is almost here and you are looking for unique ways to celebrate it not only with your loved ones, but also with your biggest admirers – your dogs!
Over 35 million people will receive heart shaped chocolate boxes this Valentine’s making it the busiest day for veterinarians to field calls and treat chocolate poisoning in dogs.
Dogs, like people, love chocolate. Unfortunately for man’s best friend, chocolate is toxic and can cause severe poisoning and even death. That’s because chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine (a stimulant similar to caffeine). Dogs can’t process theobromine, so the levels accumulate and become deadly.
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. Dark or baker’s chocolate contains 10x more theobromine than milk chocolate. Levels vary from 130mg to 450mg of theobromine in an ounce of dark chocolate to 44mg to 58mg in an ounce of milk chocolate.
It only takes 115mg of theobromine per 2.2 pounds of body weight to kill a dog. To put that in perspective, 2 ounces of dark chocolate or 20 ounces of milk chocolate could kill a 20 pound dog. That’s equivalent to approx. three-fourths of a dark Ghirardelli chocolate bar or four and half Hershey chocolate bars.
How many ounces is in your heart shaped box of chocolates? Depends on the size of the box. Russell Stover’s boxes have a net weight range of 1.7oz to 42oz. Needless to say, you don’t want your dog eating any of it.
If you know your dog ate chocolate, don’t wait to do the math and call your veterinarian immediately.
On the other hand, if your dog snagged a few chocolates on the sly, you’ll want to look for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or hyperactivity. For larger consumption, you will notice an increase in your dog’s heart rate, muscle twitching, excessive panting, restlessness, and increased urination. If not treated immediately, it can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and death.
Prevention is the Best Strategy
Store chocolate in a top-level cabinet or the refrigerator where it is not assessible by your dog. Dogs are sneaky, smart, and they love chocolate, so choose a good hiding place.
Never leave chocolate out on counters or coffee tables. If you want to leave chocolates out for guests, secure your dog in another room or leave them with a friend for the night.
Have a heart shaped box at home that you are dying to dig into? Secure your dog in another room while enjoying your treats. Dogs really do love the smell and taste of chocolate, and tempting them by eating it in front of them will make them want to find it later.
Doggy Safe Valentine Recipes
So how do you show some love to Fido and make him happy on this special occasion? Feeling bad that you can’t share your valentine treats? You can make your own by substituting carob for chocolate. Here are two recipes that you and your dog will enjoy!
Peanut Butter & “Chocolate” Truffles
From the The Daily Puppy
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup whey protein powder or 3 TBL dry powdered milk
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups carob chips
½ teaspoon vegetable shortening
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour. Once mixed, add 3 tablespoons of dry powdered milk OR ¼ cup whey protein powder and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Mix until dough forms. If dough is too dense or dry, add 1 teaspoon of water in increments until texture is firm, but not sticky.
Grease cookie sheet. Form dough into ½ inch to 1-inch balls (depending on the size of your dog) and place on the cookie sheet.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 2 cups of carob chips for 30 seconds on high. Stir and microwave in 10-second increments until fully melted. If needed, add ½ teaspoon of vegetable shortening for a smoother consistency.
Use toothpick and dip peanut butter balls into melted carob and return to cookie sheet to dry.
Makes 12-15 truffles. Store in a cool, dry place.
Mock Chocolate Carob-Walnut Bark
From All Things Dog Blog
4 cups carob chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (dry roasted peanuts are good too)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Prepare an edged cookie sheet by lining it with recycled tin foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
Melt carob chips in a glass bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir and repeat process. Stir in the peanut butter and microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir to combine. Add the nuts and cinnamon, stirring these in until evenly distributed.
Pour this mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, spreading evenly. Chill for 15 minutes in a freezer or 30 minutes in your refrigerator.
When ready, break up the bark into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Store bark in a sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Recipe makes about 70 one to two-inch pieces of deliciousness that you can delight your party guests and their dogs with.
The above delicious yet safe Valentine’s Day recipes for dogs and important tips and advice are from Andrea Servadio, Co-Founder of Fitdog Sports Club in Santa Monica, Calif.