Can Dogs eat Chocolate?
Can my dog eat chocolate? This is a universal question that all dog owners have and the truth is that chocolate is toxic to dogs.
Depending on the amount of chocolate consumed and the type of chocolate eaten, as well as of the weight of your dog, it can lead to a very serious medical emergency.
Why Is Chocolate Toxic For Dogs?
One of the things that you may not know is that chocolate contains some ingredients that can hurt your dog. Among the worst ones are Theobromine and caffeine. These can stimulate the nervous system and speed the heart rate of dogs.
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However, it is important to note that not all chocolates are the same and that there are some that are more dangerous for your dog. In addition to this, the amount of chocolate that your dog actually eats can also play a big role.
As we already mentioned above, different types of chocolate contain different amounts of Theobromine. So, the toxicity levels will also vary.
It is also important to remember that there are ingredients that chocolates may contain that can hurt your dog as well. These include caffeine and sugar among others. First, let’s outline the different types of chocolate and their relative toxicities.
#1: White Chocolate
This is the type of chocolate that contains lower levels of theobromine. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a type of chocolate that you can give your dog.
While it’s not likely that it may lead to heart problems that tend to be linked to Theobromine, it’s not ok to give your dog white chocolate.
The truth is that it contains a lot of sugar which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
#2: Milk Chocolate
Just like white chocolate, this isn’t a type of chocolate that contains a high level of theobromine that can lead to heart problems. Yet, it can still cause vomiting and diarrhea.
#3: Dark Chocolate
You need to keep in mind that even a very small amount of dark chocolate can put your dog in danger.
Considering the high level of theobromine that this type of chocolate contains, your dog may suffer some severe symptoms that may include irregular and fast heartbeats, seizures, tremors, and possibly death.
#4: Baking Chocolate
This is, by far, the worst type of chocolate that your dog can eat since it is the one that has higher levels of Theobromine.
Besides, you should also watch out for any brownies or cake that have baking chocolate as an ingredient since the added sugar will add even more health problems.
The reality is that knowing the type of chocolate and how much chocolate your dog ate can be a great help in case of an emergency.
As a rule of thumb, your dog should experience mild symptoms of chocolate toxicity when it consumes 20 mg of methylxanthines per kilogram of body weight.
In case the dog consumes between 40 to 50 mg/kg, it may experience some cardiac symptoms and the dog may have some seizures if the amount of chocolate is greater than 60 mg/kg.
Chocolate Toxicity Calculator
If all those numbers we mentioned above just sounds like Greek, then don’t worry! We have a great toxicity calculator below provided by the team at Vets Now which you can use to determine whether your dog might be in the clear or not.
Signs Of Chocolate Poisoning
You may not be aware of this, but the signs of chocolate poisoning do not start immediately after your dog eats it. In fact, they usually start appearing between 6 to 12 hours after eaten and they can last for up to 72 hours.
The most common signs of chocolate poisoning include:
- increased urination
- high abnormal heart rate
- collapse and death
It is also important to note that dogs with previous heart conditions as well as older dogs tend to be at more risk of sudden death due to chocolate poisoning.
What To Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate
The truth is that no matter how hard you try to prevent your dog from eating chocolate, they are pretty smart and they tend to smell it far away.
Accidents happen all the time. So, instead of recriminating yourself, you need to act fast. In case you suspect your dog ate chocolate, you should call your veterinarian immediately.
Alternatively, call your local Pet Poison Helpline to ask for advice.
Depending on the chocolate your dog ate and on the dog’s size, the veterinarian may simply recommend that you monitor your dog closely and that you call back in case his condition worsens over time.
However, this may not be the case. In some situations, the veterinarian may ask you to bring the dog into the clinic.
The truth is that if your dog ate chocolate less than two hours ago, the veterinarian may consider inducing vomiting as well as giving your dog different doses of activated charcoal.
In case you don’t know, the activated charcoal will help your dog’s body to move the toxins out instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream.
In the most severe cases, the veterinarian may need to use other treatments. These can include IV fluids or medications to resolve the effects of the poisoning.
In case your dog is already suffering from seizures, it may even be necessary for him to spend the night at the clinic so that the veterinarian can monitor him closely.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Chocolate
As we already mentioned above, dogs are pretty smart and they can smell chocolate far away.
And while eating small doses of white chocolate or milk chocolate may not be a problem for bigger dogs, it’s not recommended at all.
Besides, there is a wide range of treats that you can give your dog that don’t include chocolate.
So, here are some things you should do to prevent your dog from eating chocolate:
#1: Put It Somewhere Where Your Dog Can’t Reach It
No matter if it’s a chocolate bar, hot chocolate mix or even cocoa powder, you want to ensure that everything you have at home that has chocolate is stored in a secure place. It can be in a closed-door pantry or simply on a high shelf.
Besides, if you have kids at home or if you usually have guests around your home, it is important to tell them that they shouldn’t ever give chocolate to your dog in addition to being careful not to leave chocolate in purses, on countertops or on tables.
It is also worth mentioning that it pays to be even more careful during some special holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, Hanukkah, Easter, and even Valentine’s Day.
#2: Train Your Dog
Another thing that you can consider doing is to teach your dog the “leave it” command. This is one of the simplest commands and it tends to work pretty well in these cases.
After all, you will be preventing your dog from eating something that is left within reach during a walk or that falls onto the floor.
In conclusion, dogs and chocolate are not a match made in heaven! Always be wary especially during the holidays to ensure that your pupper doesn’t unknowingly land himself in trouble.