We can never think of chocolate as anything other than a sweet treat of delight, right? After all, everybody loves chocolate. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, “People around the world (but mostly in Europe and the United States) consume more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans a year.”
If you have ever asked yourself “Can dogs eat chocolate?” or become tempted to share one of the candies with your dog, let me tell you, dogs cannot eat chocolate. This most loved confectionery for humans is, in fact, poisonous for dogs. Swallowing even the smallest amount can be extremely dangerous to their health.
This is an important topic. We want every dog owner to be well-informed about chocolate toxicity in dogs. Here, we explain why chocolate is dangerous to canines and what you can do if your pet ingests some. Let’s begin.
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Two most precious things in the world- Dogs and Chocolate. Special on their own, but when combined- DEADLY. So, no! Dogs cannot eat chocolate.
Chocolate and other cocoa products contain chemicals called theobromine and caffeine, both of which are extremely hazardous to a dog’s health. The dogs’ body cannot metabolize theobromine easily and that makes digestion a slow process. It allows time for toxic levels of the chemical to build up in their system. Caffeine, on the other hand, makes their heartbeat speed up. According to the Merck/Merial Manual for Veterinary Health, when dogs eat chocolate, their body cannot process these chemicals like a human body. It leads to great pressure on their kidneys and the nervous system. This is when the signs and symptoms of poisoning start to show.
Signs and Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
- Increased urination
- Elevated or abnormal heart rate
- Collapse and death
Symptoms usually appear within 6 to 12 hours of consumption and can last up to 72 hours.
It is also possible that the dog will vomit immediately after ingesting chocolate and the symptoms will not progress. Even then, give your dog immediate medical attention.
What Can You Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate?
If you think your dog has gulped down a piece of chocolate, first of all, don’t panic.
Without wasting a single second, CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY!
Your veterinarian will give them several doses of activated charcoal to induce vomiting. The charcoal removes the toxins out of the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream.
If the condition is serious, the effects of the poisoning are resolved through supplemental treatments, such as medications or IV fluids. If your dog is suffering from seizures, the vet will keep them overnight to monitor their vitals.
Your dog will most probably recover within 24 hours. But sometimes, it might take longer than that, depending upon the case.
You can call the Pet Poison Helpline for any case related to toxicity.
You can also find an online chocolate toxicity calculator developed by VetsNow to calculate and assess the toxicity level of your dog.
WHATEVER YOU DO, NEVER TRY TO MAKE YOUR DOG VOMIT BY YOURSELF. The situation might turn more dangerous. You will only waste precious time.
How Can You Prevent Your Dog from Eating Chocolate?
It is totally upon you to make sure your dog doesn’t get near chocolates or any cocoa products. Here are a few things you can consider:
- Put your chocolates far away from your pup’s reach. Keep them in a closed pantry on a high shelf rather than leaving them on the counter or table.
- Don’t be tempted to give your dog a piece of chocolate, especially during festivals. As boring as it might get, stick to regular dog treats.
- Train your dog to obey your commands from an early age. Teach the “Leave it” command and use this phrase whenever you see your dog eating or sniffing anything that falls on the ground. It’s an easy command to teach. Find out how by watching this video.
- Crate training is another helpful tip for dogs. This helps them to learn to wait for their food calmly in their crate. This way they won’t turn into disruption mode in the kitchen even when you’re away.
Some Frequently Asked Questions about Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
1. What Types of Chocolates Are the Most Poisonous for Dogs?
Here is the list of chocolates from most to least poisonous according to their theobromine content.
- Cocoa powder: 400-737 mg/oz.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate: 390-450 mg/oz.
- Dark chocolate: 135 mg/oz.
- Milk chocolate: 44-60 mg/oz.
- White chocolate: 0.25 mg/oz.
(Note: mg refers to milligram and oz. means ounce. 1 ounce is equal to 28.34 grams)
The effect of poisoning also depends upon the weight and size of your dog. For example- a 70 lbs. Labrador Retriever has much less risk of toxicity compared to an 8 pound Yorkshire Terrier.
2. How Much Chocolate Can Dogs Eat?
According to a research study, mild symptoms are seen when dogs consume 20 mg of theobromine and caffeine per kilogram of their body weight. Cardiac warning signs occur around 40 to 50 mg/kg, and at dosages over 60 mg/kg, seizures can occur.
Veterinary treatment is required if dogs have consumed up to 3.5g of dark chocolate and 14g of milk chocolate for every kilogram they weigh.
However, we recommend you not to give any chocolate to your dog, no matter what amount. Even the smallest crumb might be dangerous. So, rather than wondering how much of it is safe, AVOID CHOCOLATES ALL TOGETHER.
3. Can Dogs Eat Semi-Sweet Chocolate?
No. Dogs cannot eat semi-sweet chocolate. The cocoa content in these chocolates can start from a minimum of 35% and can range up to 60%, 70%, or even 90%.
4. Can Dogs Eat Milk Chocolate?
No. Although these chocolates contain comparatively less amount of cocoa, other components such as vegetable fats, emulsifiers, and artificial flavorings can be harmful to dogs’ health.
5. Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
No. Although the risk of cocoa poisoning is minimal, that doesn’t mean these chocolates are safe for dogs’ health. White Chocolate is high in fat and sugar. A dog’s body is not equipped to handle those quantities and so, their digestive system is at risk. White Chocolate can cause gastrointestinal upset and acute pancreatitis in the long run.
6. Can Dogs Eat Dark Chocolate?
The answer is no. Dark Chocolate contains a high amount of cocoa. It also contains Xylitol as a sweetener, which is highly dangerous to dogs. Even a small amount of dark chocolate can be a danger to their health.
7. Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Ice-cream?
It’s hard to calculate the risk with chocolate-flavored food, one where the main ingredient is not chocolate. For example- Chocolate Ice-cream. We won’t be able to measure the exact amount of theobromine and caffeine as the label of ice-cream may or may not specify the content. So, it is best if you avoid feeding chocolate ice-cream to your dog.
Keep in mind the digestive system of dogs in the case of chocolate ice-cream too.
But there is good news! You can find ice-cream especially made for dogs in the market. These ice-creams are totally safe for your furry friend.
8. Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Cake?
No. The problem with chocolate cake is that we cannot know the exact content of chocolate and cocoa. So, it is difficult to calculate the amount of toxicity if your dog grabs a bite of this cake.
It is best if you avoid Chocolate cake completely rather than take a risk with chocolate poisoning.
9. Can Dogs Die From Eating Chocolate?
Unfortunately, yes. If immediate medical attention is not provided, dogs can die from chocolate poisoning. However, it is rare.
Dogs are careless eaters. They cannot identify what food they should or should not eat. So, the next time you see your dog looking at your chocolate with those puppy eyes, you know what to do.
Dogs CANNOT eat chocolate. If you find your dog trying to cram down chocolate or any chocolate flavored product, call the vet immediately. Do not be a judge of the situation yourself. If you think your dog has ingested even a small amount, provide them with immediate medical attention.
For more information about dogs and their health, visit our website.