Can dogs eat chocolate; this is a common question that most owners know the answer to. Dogs and chocolate do not go together at all. The simple fact is chocolate is toxic to dogs.
It has taken some time for me to write an article on chocolate and dogs, quite simply because there is so much commentary online about the dangers of it, it is difficult to add anything new.
However, in my attempt to cover all foods, (especially on the doggie toxic list), chocolate needs to be included.
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate – The Benefits
There are no benefits to feeding your dog chocolate. Aside from the toxicity, there is no nutritional benefit, and a complete absence of vitamins makes this a completely pointless food for your pet. As we say, dogs and chocolate do not mix.
Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?
Such is the general knowledge that dogs can’t eat chocolate, a more prevalent question is understandably why. Why is chocolate so bad for dogs?
The problem begins because chocolate is made from cocoa. Cocoa contains caffeine and a chemical compound called theobromine – both of which are very harmful to dogs.
A dog is unable to metabolize thebromine to the same degree as what us humans can. When we eat chocolate, the theobromine gives us a very subtle energy buzz.
For dogs the impact is far more intense and can last for several hours. In fact, after 17 hours of consumption, over half the theobromine ingested by your dog, will remain in the system. Imagine being on a caffeine buzz for that long and you get an idea of what your poor dog is going through.
Worse still are the physical effects your dog will experience after eating chocolate. Even small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
If a large amount is consumed, your dog will have chocolate toxicity poisoning. This will induce more serious symptoms such as hyper-activity, seizures, tremors, and rapid heart rate. The most extreme cases can end up in respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
My Dog ate chocolate – What should I do?
If you know your dog has eaten chocolate you should take him to the vet as soon as you can.
If possible, you should try to ascertain how much chocolate your dog has consumed. The type of chocolate is also important, (Dark chocolate has more concentrated theobromine than white chocolate for instances).
With that information it will be easier for your vet to decide on a course of action, and ultimately he will be able to better understand whether your dog has eaten a toxic amount of chocolate, and what treatment might be necessary.
There is no antidote that can be taken by dogs against theobromine.
Generally, your vet will attempt to make your dog vomit. One method is to wash out your dog’s stomach and feed them activated charcoal – this will help absorb any remaining theobromine left in the intestines.
If symptoms have progressed and your dog is experiencing all the signs of severe chocolate toxicity poisoning, the vet may have to put them on an intravenous fluids, and medication to control heart rate and blood pressure.
If you are able to react quickly enough to your dog eating chocolate, the prognosis is usually very good. Vets have the means to flush out your dogs system and control the more severe side affects, meaning your dog will not suffer any long lasting health issues.
Dogs and Chocolate – How much chocolate is too much?
To avoid any issue we obviously advise that you never feed your dog any chocolate. However, if he has somehow got at the sweet stash, or someone has fed them chocolate with out knowledge of the dangers, here is some data to give you an idea of where you stand:
Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight should not cause toxicity to your dog.
As a guideline to the approximate amount of theobromine in 25grams of chocolate, the following may help. Bare in mind chocolate manufacturers do differ however:
- White chocolate contains minimal amounts of theobromine.
- Milk chocolate contains 44-64 mg theobromine
- Semi-sweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate contains 150-160 mg theobromine
- Unsweetened (baking) chocolate 390-450 mg theobromine
- Dry cocoa powder 800 mg theobromine
To give you an idea of what this all means in practice – a 30kg dog that has eaten 200g milk chocolate is likely to have a digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea).
If they had eaten 500g milk chocolate, it is likely that cardiovascular problems will be seen (increased heart rate) and if they had eaten 750g milk chocolate they may develop seizures.
Dogs and Chocolate – The Bottom Line
As we have already said – dogs and chocolate just do not mix. Your best course of action is to keep your dog well away from the sweet stuff. If however, your pet has accidentally consumed some chocolate, keep calm, make a note of exactly what he has eaten if you can, and then head straight to the vet. If you catch it in time, your dog should be okay.