Can dogs eat chocolate? No, chocolate is dangerous for dogs since it contains two harmful and lethal chemicals. While this sweet treat is safe for humans, it can cause severe chocolate toxicity in dogs.
Let’s take a closer look at the dangers chocolate poses to our canine pals.
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate is the most popular sweet treat for humans; however, the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are extremely dangerous for dogs.
The digestive system of canines has difficulty breaking down theobromine and caffeine. A study shows that it took 17.5 hours for dogs to eliminate half of the theobromine concentrations from their system.
As for caffeine, dogs could get rid of half of the consumed caffeine in 4.5 hours. The slow metabolization of these compounds can lead to toxic chemical build-up in a dog’s body.
Can dogs die from eating chocolate? Yes. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. Without prompt treatment, chocolate toxicity can lead to organ failure in dogs and, eventually, death.
All Types of Chocolate Can Cause Poisoning
Every type of chocolate contains theobromine, which is present in higher amounts compared to caffeine. However, the levels of theobromine will vary greatly depending on the chocolate type.
Cocoa beans are the most dangerous since they contain around 300–1500 milligrams of theobromine per ounce. This is followed by cocoa powder, which has about 400–737 milligrams of theobromine per ounce.
Unsweetened baking chocolate is highly toxic to dogs too. It contains 390–450 milligrams of theobromine per ounce.
Can dogs eat dark chocolate?
No, dark chocolate is toxic to dogs. Its theobromine level is just below unsweetened baking chocolate, which is approximately 135 milligrams/ounce.
Milk chocolate contains 44–60 milligrams of theobromine per ounce. Although this is significantly lower than other types of chocolate, it can still be poisonous to dogs.
Can dogs eat white chocolate?
The answer is no. White chocolate does not contain large amounts of theobromine, only around 0.25 milligrams/ounce, but it is high in sugar and fats. It may cause health issues such as obesity, pancreatitis, and diabetes in dogs. It can cause chocolate poisoning in dogs if ingested in large amounts.
Chocolate Confections and Desserts: Not Canine-Friendly
Chocolate is an important ingredient in countless confectionaries, from cookies to pies. Pet owners should keep their pooches away from any chocolate-flavored desserts to ensure their safety.
“Can dogs eat chocolate ice cream?” is a popular question in the pet community. Chocolate ice cream is bad for dogs. Apart from containing theobromine and caffeine, it also has sugar, additives, and other ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Also, chocolate ice cream often has milk that can cause digestive problems in dogs.
Many dog owners also ask, “Can dogs eat chocolate cake?” No, never feed chocolate cake to dogs. Cocoa powder is often used as the main ingredient in cakes. Take note that cocoa powder has one of the highest levels of theobromine, meaning it has a high chance of inducing severe chocolate toxicity in dogs.
How Much Chocolate Can Dogs Eat?
Can a little bit of chocolate kill a dog? Yes, there have been instances of dogs dying after ingesting small amounts of chocolate. For this reason, we greatly discourage dog owners from sharing chocolates with their pets.
Generally, severe chocolate toxicity in dogs will occur when they have ingested around 100–150 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram of body weight.
Over 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning. On the other hand, over 0.5 ounces per pound of milk chocolate may induce toxicity.
The size of the dog is another factor too. A small chunk of chocolate will not likely harm mid-sized or large breeds. However, it is enough to cause chocolate poisoning in smaller dogs.
Can one lick of chocolate hurt a dog? Depending on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate, one lick of chocolate can hurt a dog. Mild symptoms of toxicity may crop up. Thus, it is best to keep chocolate treats to yourself.
Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs Symptoms
If your dog eats chocolate, he may show clinical signs of toxicity within 6–12 hours after ingestion. The following symptoms can last up to 72 hours:
Mild Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
- Increased thirst
- Excessive urination
- Increased heart rate
Severe Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
- Muscle tremors
- Heart failure
Complications may arise due to these clinical signs. For instance, vomiting may lead to aspiration pneumonia, making treatment harder for affected dogs.
Also, note that senior dogs and dogs with heart problems are at high risk of sudden death from chocolate toxicity. If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian right away for advice.
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate Chocolate?
If you have confirmed that your dog has eaten chocolate, be sure to jot down the following information:
- Your dog’s weight
- Type of chocolate ingested
- Amount of chocolate ingested
- The time when the incident occurred
It is also a good idea to bring the chocolate wrapper. The vet will use the information to find the most appropriate treatment for your dog.
In some cases, pet owners can induce vomiting in their dogs to get rid of the ingested sweets. However, if you plan to carry this out, contact your vet first to learn the proper application of this method.
How Do Vets Treat Dogs Suffering from Chocolate Poisoning?
The first step to treating chocolate toxicity in canines is getting rid of the toxin in the digestive system. This means that the vet will need to induce vomiting in the affected dogs.
They may also administer activated charcoal. This ingredient helps remove toxins from the system and prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
The vet may also provide supplemental treatment to address clinical symptoms of chocolate poisoning. This will include using IV fluids to prevent dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
Prescribing medications is a common part of chocolate toxicity treatment too. Diazepam is typically given to dogs that experience seizures and restlessness. Beta-blockers are administered to lower fast heart rates.
Dogs experiencing mild chocolate poisoning will be back to their usual selves 1–2 days after treatment. On the other hand, dogs with severe symptoms may need to be monitored for several days or weeks in the vet clinic.