Chocolate is not considered safe for dogs and you shouldn’t be feeding your dog chocolate. If you didn’t know already, you may have thought to give your pooch a small piece of chocolate as you enjoy your favourite chocolate bar. This is a complete no-no and under no circumstances should you make it a habit of feeding your dog chocolate.
This is because chocolate is considered toxic for dogs and can lead to a host of illnesses. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which though fine for humans cannot be metabolised by dogs. The inability to metabolise theobromine makes it toxic for dogs and can even lead to rare fatalities.
As a pet owner, you may have noticed your pooch, gawking away at the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and may have thought, ‘what’s the harm in feeding him one?’ Chocolate in any form can be dangerous for dogs and you should work to inform yourself to care better for your pooch.
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Plain and simply no, dogs cannot eat chocolate and it is not considered safe to feed your dog any amount of chocolate. Chocolates contain a toxic compound called theobromine which isn’t metabolised by your pooch’s system. This leads to the build-up of toxic levels of theobromine which can become poisonous. Though fatalities from chocolate poisoning are rare, chocolate could make your pooch very sick.
Dogs will eat anything and if you offer them a piece of chocolate, they will most certainly gobble it up. This doesn’t mean it is good for them. It is our duty as pet owners to know what our pets can and cannot eat and only feed them things that are considered safe.
The theobromine doesn’t get eliminated from the body and cause the stimulation of the central nervous system and cardiac system. This could lead to serious illnesses and can have a damaging effect on internal functionings.
Darker chocolates in larger quantities are even more dangerous for dogs as they contain higher amounts of theobromine. It is the toxicity of this compound that makes this harmless treat for humans to become very dangerous for your pooch.
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Though humans are able to metabolise theobromine, dogs simply cannot do the same. This leads to the build-up of theobromine in your dog’s system, which can even prove fatal in large quantities.
Though dogs don’t usually eat chocolate on their own, they are often coaxed to eating the chocolate by the pet owner who believes it to be a harmless treat. This usually happens due to the lack of information. The pet owner simply doesn’t know better.
When it comes to theobromine and caffeine, dogs process these compounds very slowly, which is why dogs cannot eat chocolate. The slow processing of theobromine causes the build-up of toxicity which can lead to poisonous levels.
If your dog eats some chocolate, you should be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of chocolate poisoning and would want to consult a veterinarian for advice and treatment.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Chocolate? (Symptoms)
The extent of poisoning depends on the size of your dog. The smaller your dog, a smaller quantity would be needed to trigger a toxic reaction.
For a medium-sized dog that consumes only a small amount of chocolate, you may only notice symptoms of digestive distress such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, if your dog consumes a large quantity of chocolate or a small dog eats even a small quantity, it could lead to chocolate toxicity signs of which include,
- Internal bleeding
- Heart attack
- Irregular heart rate
This is because the theobromine in chocolate works to stimulate the cardiac and central nervous system, leading to an irregular heart rate and heart attacks and seizures as a result.
The caffeine in chocolate will work to make your dog extremely excited. This is the first tell-tale sign of chocolate consumption.
If you fed your dog chocolate or came to realise that your dog ate some chocolate by accident, be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms and consult a veterinarian early, especially if you have a small dog or suspect that your dog ate a large quantity.
How Much Chocolate is Toxic for Dogs?
The toxicity of chocolate depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate consumed. Darker chocolate has more theobromine, hence will require only a smaller portion to reach levels of toxicity. Similarly, smaller dogs will require smaller amounts of chocolate to have a toxic reaction.
Cardiac symptoms of chocolate toxicity may arise upon consumption go 40 to 50 mg per kg of weight of your dog. While seizures as a result of toxicity may occur if they consume more than 60 mg of chocolate per kg of body weight.
To make it easier for you to understand, a 9-ounce bar of milk chocolate contains sufficient theobromine to potentially show signs of chocolate poisoning. Though for many dogs, ingesting small amounts of milk chocolate is not harmful, in large quantities, even milk chocolate can be dangerous.
For darker chocolate, your dog would have to consume a smaller amount to reach the same levels of toxicity, so be very careful of dark chocolate. Even a smaller amount will trigger reactions including digestive distress, hence dark chocolate in all portions should be avoided.
Dark chocolate contains about 7 times the amount of theobromine as milk chocolate, which means even a 1 ounce serving of dark chocolate can be very dangerous for your dog.
This does however mean that if you drop a chocolate chip while cooking and your dog gets to it before you have a chance to clean up, there isn’t a reason to worry. However, you shouldn’t make a practice of feeding your dog chocolate, for the overconsumption of chocolate can for certain be very dangerous for your pooch.
What to do if my Dog Eats Chocolate?
If you suspect that your dog may have eaten chocolate, or you yourself fed him the chocolate by mistake, don’t wait around for signs of toxicity to arise. It is best that you call your veterinarian immediately. The sooner your dog is treated, the higher the chances that your dog will recover without any incidents.
If you are having a hard time getting a hold of your veterinarian, then it is best that you call your local emergency veterinary clinic or the pet poison hotline. The professionals who work there should be able to help walk you through and will tell you what to do.
It is a good idea to keep the packaging of the chocolate they ate so your vet can get a better idea of the type of chocolate they ate and the amount of theobromine they are working with.
The type of treatment will depend on the length of time the chocolate has been in your dog’s body and will vary based on the seriousness of the poisoning.
What is the Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?
Further to providing your dog with support, treatment at the verterinarian will include decontamination. The chocolate has to first be removed from your dog’s system. If the chocolate was consumed a couple of hours prior, your vet may try to induce vomiting to remove the chocolate. This will more likely help you and your dog avoid a hospital stay.
This as the primary means of treatment is the reason why you shouldn’t wait to call your veterinarian. That being the case, you should never try to induce vomiting at home yourself without a vet’s supervision.
If it has been more than a few hours since they consumed chocolate or you simply don’t know when they consumed it, your vet would have to remove the toxic byproducts of chocolate in your dog’s system by administering activated charcoal or giving it intravenous fluids through a catheter.
If your dog eats chocolate and gets sick, they will most likely have to be hospitalised to receive support. Treatments will include intravenous fluid therapy, anti-nausea or anti-diarrhoea medication, anti-seizure medication etc.
Serious cases of chocolate poisoning can be fatal for dogs. In such circumstances, your dog will have to be monitored by veterinary personnel and your dog may have to be hospitalised for several days.
The cost of treatment for chocolate poisoning can range from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the seriousness of the poisoning.
Will a Tiny Bit of Chocolate Hurt my Dog?
If you drop a chocolate chip while cooking and your dog gets to it before you have the chance to clean up, the amount of theobromine in a chocolate chip should not be a reason to worry.
Chocolate in tiny portions will not lead to fatal consequences. However, if you have a small dog, you should be extra careful, for even a small amount could have adverse reactions.
Small amounts of chocolate will probably only lead to an upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhoea. It is the larger quantities of chocolate that you should be worried about.
Regardless, you don’t want to consider chocolate to be an occasional treat for your dog. It shouldn’t be considered a reward and even though consuming a tiny bit of chocolate by accident won’t lead to drastic reactions, you don’t want to make it a practice of feeding your dog even a tiny bit of chocolate.
How Long Does it Take for Chocolate to Affect a Dog?
Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 6 to 12 hours. That being the case, you shouldn’t wait for a sign to appear before you consult a veterinarian. Your vet would be able to induce vomiting to remove the chocolate from your dog’s system if within a couple of hours since consumption. Hence, don’t wait for signs to appear and act immediately.
The first signs of chocolate poisoning will include diarrhoea and vomiting which is caused by the build-up of theobromine in your dog’s system.
The reaction time to chocolate also depends on the quantity of chocolate consumed. A larger quantity being more dangerous can lead to a more serious reaction within a few hours of consumption.
Regardless of the time it takes for your dog to show signs of a toxic reaction, don’t wait around for signs and act immediately by contacting your veterinarian.
What Type of Chocolate is Bad for Dogs?
Milk chocolate in tiny portions is not as dangerous for dogs as dark chocolate in tiny portions. This is because darker chocolates have more theobromine than white chocolate. The greater the concentration of theobromine, the more dangerous the chocolate is.
All types of chocolate are considered bad for dogs. With dark chocolate being one of the worst types of chocolate for dogs, baking chocolate is considered the worst for dogs. Baking chocolate contains the highest concentration of theobromine making even a small amount very dangerous. Hence, if you drop a piece of baking chocolate while baking, you should most certainly pick that up immediately before your dog has a chance to eat it.
White chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine, however is still dangerous for dogs. Though the concentration of theobromine various, no amount of any type of chocolate is recommended for dogs.
We do seriously hope that you are aware of this and are not feeding your dog chocolate as a reward or treat.
When it comes to human food, chocolate, a food that is considered a treat for humans is actually rather dangerous for your pooch. Any type of chocolate in any portion is not considered safe for dogs. If you didn’t know better previously, now you do.
Feeding your dog chocolate could seem like a harmless act, but can lead to toxic build-up. Though safe for humans, chocolate is poisonous for dogs and you should do everything you can to ensure their safeguard by preventing them from eating chocolate.
As a pet owner, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the implications of simple actions on your dog. If you didn’t know how dangerous chocolate can be for your dog, you now know.
We hope after reading this word to word, you have the information at hand to never feed your pooch chocolate. We pray that this reaches you in time and is able to deliver the information required to ensure the safety of your pooch.