Many people love eating chocolate, and this holds true for both humans and dogs alike. Whether it be milk, dark, or white chocolate, all varieties have a high cocoa content that makes them delicious for everyone! However, how healthy is it to feed your pup some of your favorite chocolates? According to a study by the FDA in 2005-6, “chocolate ingestion by dogs has been implicated as a cause of significant clinical signs”.
So, Can Dogs Eat Dark Chocolate?
The answer is no. Dogs can’t eat dark chocolate. The problem is that dark chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine and even smaller amounts of theobromine and its derivatives, which are toxic to dogs in large quantities.
It’s important to know all the side effects of eating too much dark chocolate so you do not harm your dog. We have put together this article that answers all your questions regarding dogs and dark chocolate. Read on!
You might also be interested in “Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?”
Why Dark Chocolate Is Bad for Dogs
- First, let’s talk about how dark chocolate is processed and manufactured. Unlike milk chocolate, which is made by “cooking” cocoa butter and mixing it with sugar, theobromine, and other chemicals, milk chocolate is actually a quite bitter tasting. Theobromine does not form part of the manufacturing process—the bitter taste comes from bitter-tasting acids such as phenylethylamine (taste like licorice or anise) and cinnamic acid (taste like cinnamon). Theobromine is only a by-product of the highly acid cocoa butter processing, and while that amount may be small, it does add up.
- Dark chocolate contains about 1.5 percent theobromine while milk chocolate contains about 0.2 percent, according to dog food manufacturer Royal Canine’s study on the topic. In other words, dark chocolate has four times more theobromine than milk chocolate.
- The risk of toxicity from dark chocolate is not insignificant: If a dog ingests a tablespoon of dark chocolate every day for a year he would have to eat more than 2,000 teaspoons—that’s enough to fill a bathtub—to reach toxic levels.
- According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science, “A single piece of dark chocolate can give a person a harmless buzz, but as with any high-caffeine food for dogs, this could be dangerous … Our findings indicate that dogs may have a greater risk from ingesting higher levels of theobromine from dark chocolate than people do.”
- Now let’s talk about how theobromine and caffeine affect dogs and their behavior. There’s no question that it gets dogs up and running—in some cases activity levels will increase by more than 150 percent. It can even cause hyperactivity or anxiety–when mixed with other stimulants such as cannabis (which is illegal) these effects may be more significant.
- Dark chocolate can also hurt your pup’s health as it contains high levels of fat as well as sugar. As such, these products can cause serious side effects and lead to other medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
- Furthermore, dark chocolate is very acidic and can be dangerous to dogs. Dark chocolates like the ones that contain theobromine and caffeine can cause weak muscles in canines.
Symptoms of Dangers
The major symptoms of consuming too much dark chocolate include the following:
Experts say that feeding your dog more than 1/8 of an ounce of dark chocolate can get a dog sick. That doesn’t seem like much, does it? However, keep in mind that what’s considered a very small amount for a dog—about 1/8 of an ounce—is pretty much a nice-sized chunk for a human. But it’s difficult to say as every dog is different. Some pets could be severely affected by eating as little as three ounces per week, but others could consume as much as four or even five ounces per day and still not show any symptoms.
Regardless of the severity of symptoms, if you find your dog munching on a bar of dark chocolate, take them to your vet immediately.
Other Types of Chocolates
Most people don’t realize that there are actually different types of chocolate. The most common types include milk chocolate, cocoa powder, unsweetened baking/cooking cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate (which contains both sugar and cocoa butter), bittersweet (contains no sugar), and bitter (contains no sugar or milk).
Milk chocolate is generally considered less healthy than dark or bittersweet chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids, whereas milk chocolate contains more cream.
Find out more about dogs and milk chocolate in “Can Dogs Eat Milk Chocolate?”
Make sure you keep all types of chocolates out of reach of your pet at all times! Chocolate falls into the category of “toxic to pets” which means that even small amounts can cause serious health risks if eaten continuously (and too much will kill them). Find out more about it in our article, “Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?”
So, can dogs eat dark chocolate? No. Dogs can’t eat dark chocolate. Dogs are unable to metabolize caffeine and theobromine effectively because they lack the liver enzyme needed to break it down. Dark chocolate contains a hefty amount of caffeine and theobromine, and consuming it can cause liver problems and even death.
Thank you for reading the article.
Now that you know how dark chocolate is toxic to dogs, find out more about other chocolate-related dog articles that you might be interested in.
Has your dog ever taken a bite from a bar of dark chocolate? What was their reaction? Did they get sick right after? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!