No chocolate for the dog! |

No chocolate for the dog!

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkBarkery dogs Annie, left, and Maggie are all amped up for Valentine's Day in their jester scarves. Celebrate Valentine's Day with your pet by giving them some doggie-friendly alternatives to chocolate like these carob dipped dog bones.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Valentine’s Day can be bad as it is. But can you imagine suffering through it without any chocolate to buffer the blow?While we’re sitting on the couch in front of the TV, smothering our singleness in the Godiva and Ghirardelli that arrived in a care package from mom, our likewise loveless (and probably neutered) pooches have no such source of solace: Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats.Chocolate naturally contains methylxanthine alkaloids in the form of theobromine and caffeine – stimulants that can affect the gastrointestinal, nervous and cardiovascular systems.”Dogs will act like they’re really on a caffeine buzz,” said veterinarian Mark Cowan of Buffalo Mountain Animal Clinic in Silverthorne. “Jitteriness and hyperactivity is the first thing you’ll notice. You can also have some vomiting and diarrhea associated with it. It depends on how much they’ve eaten.”

Cats would have the same symptoms, but are generally not interested in chocolate.”The problem is big dogs that get on the counter and eat so much. It usually does taste good to them,” Cowan said.The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentrations of methylxanthines. Baking chocolate contains about 390 milligrams of methylxanthines an ounce, while milk chocolate contains 44 milligrams an ounce. White chocolate contains hardly any. Chocolate’s toxicity can also vary according to a dog’s weight. About two ounces of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog. Smaller amounts are dangerous to smaller dogs.So, what if your animal does break into that heart-shaped box of dark-brown bliss?”There’s not an antidote. It’s a matter of supporting them, putting them on (intravenous) fluids, and giving them a relaxant to take the edge off. And we have drugs that can get them to vomit if the dog has eaten (the chocolate) recently,” Cowan said.

Emily Jury of Dillon found that out the hard way when her dog, Willie, swiped a pound of chocolate off her bed. She called her vet, who instructed her to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.”He never ate chocolate after that,” Jury said.Even though chocolate is off limits for pets, there is a way to tempt your dog’s tummy this time of year to show your love. Many pet supply stores carry carob treats, like carob-dipped peanut butter bones or carob-peanut butter pinwheels. Carob tastes similar to chocolate, but doesn’t contain the toxic stimulants.”Annie and Maggie love them,” said Kathy Keedy, owner of two golden retrievers and the Breckenridge Barkery. “And they’re good taste testers.”

Barb Cole of the Barnyard in Frisco suggested, “If you love your pet, get a flashing red strobe light so they’re visible at night.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or also carries heart-shaped toys and flirtatious Valentine’s neck ruffles that can help get your dog in the mood.

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