Dogs have a tendency to eat foods that they should not be eating, and chocolate is one of those foods that dogs have a particular liking for. Chocolate is a favorite food item for humans, but it can be a potential poison for dogs. It is said that dogs can even die if they eat chocolate. There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about dogs and chocolate, and in this article, we’ll get to know all facts about it.
The Chemistry Behind Chocolate
Before you know whether chocolate can fatally harm a dog or not, you need to understand why chocolate poses a threat to dogs. Chocolate contains two chemicals that are toxic to dogs; caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in small quantities in chocolate, and it can cause similar symptoms in dogs like in humans if they ingest a large amount of caffeine. Theobromine is a type of alkaloid that is similar to caffeine, and it is found in higher quantities in chocolate. Theobromine is not easy for dogs to metabolize, and it can remain active in their bloodstream up to 20 hours.
What Makes Chocolate Poisonous to Dogs?
Chocolate poisoning occurs due to the presence of theobromine in chocolate. This particular chemical compound is not readily metabolized by dogs, thus allowing it to build up in their bodies over time. This can lead to a situation where a dog ate a small amount of chocolate in one hour, but symptoms of poisoning don’t appear until several hours later. This is because it takes the kidneys and liver of dogs much longer to eliminate theobromine from their system than it does humans.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
The severity of chocolate poisoning in dogs can depend on various factors, including the size of the dog and the amount of chocolate ingested. Minor symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. However, if the dose ingested is high enough, severe symptoms and complications can result, leading to death in some cases.
What Are the Signs of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?
Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within six to twelve hours of ingestion. These include vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, hyperactivity, increased thirst, dehydration, restlessness, and increased heart rate. In more severe cases, dogs will show symptoms such as seizures, respiratory failure, coma, and heart attack.
The Severity of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
Not all chocolate is the same, and not all dogs are the same. The severity of chocolate poisoning in dogs can depend on factors like age, weight, and health status. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be for a dog. Milk chocolate contains less theobromine per ounce than dark or baking chocolate, and different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine.
Which Types of Chocolate are More Toxic to Dogs?
Theobromine levels are highest in baking chocolate and dark chocolate. White chocolate has very low levels of theobromine, while milk chocolate has moderate levels of the toxin.
|Type of Chocolate||Amount of Theobromine (mg/oz)|
|Dark Chocolate||160 to 450|
|Milk Chocolate||60 to 90|
What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Chocolate?
If you find out that your dog has eaten chocolate, the first step is to remain calm. Not all types of chocolate are equally toxic, and the amount of chocolate ingested by the dog also plays a part in determining the severity of symptoms. However, if your dog has consumed a significant amount of chocolate, it is crucial to take him to the veterinarian immediately. There is no known cure for chocolate poisoning, and treatment usually includes inducing vomiting or pumping out the stomach contents of the dog.
What to Expect at the Vet?
If you take your dog to the vet after he has eaten chocolate, your veterinarian may perform blood tests, electrolyte tests, and ECG to check the dog’s heart rate. They will also induce vomiting, empty the stomach and may offer supportive care like intravenous fluids and anti-seizure medication, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Preventing Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
The best way to prevent chocolate poisoning in dogs is by keeping chocolate out of their reach. Follow the precautions below to keep your dog safe from chocolate:
- Store chocolates in hard-to-reach places like cabinets or on high shelves.
- Avoid bringing chocolate desserts into your home during the holiday season.
- Keep chocolate biscuits or cookies away from your dog.
- Warn children and other family members about the dangers of feeding chocolate to dogs.
- Keep a watchful eye on your dog while on walks or at outdoor events.
What Can You Give Your Dog Instead of Chocolate?
If your dog has a sweet tooth, try offering them some dog-friendly treats instead. Many pet stores sell specially made treats that look and taste like chocolate but contain dog-friendly ingredients such as carob.
Chocolate can be deadly to dogs, and it’s important to take every precaution to keep them safe from it. Do not wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical attention for your dog after ingesting chocolate. It is essential to remember that prevention is better than cure when it comes to chocolate poisoning in dogs.
- Q: What should I do if my dog ate a small piece of milk chocolate?
- A: If your dog ate a small amount of milk chocolate, there is no need to panic. Monitor your dog for any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or hyperactivity. If they show any of these symptoms, take them to a vet immediately.
- Q: Can a dog die from eating a small amount of chocolate?
- A: It is possible for a dog to die from eating a small amount of chocolate. However, the severity of the symptoms depends on the type of chocolate and the amount ingested by the dog. Any signs of chocolate poisoning should be taken very seriously, and you should seek veterinary assistance immediately.
- Q: How do you treat a dog with chocolate poisoning?
- A: Treatment usually includes inducing vomiting or pumping out the stomach contents of the dog. Veterinary care may also involve fluid therapy and supportive care to manage the complications like seizures, respiratory or cardiac failure. There is no known cure for chocolate poisoning in dogs.