Why Chocolate is Bad & Poisonous To Dogs?

chocolate bad for dogs
Written by Mark Braeden

If you are new to owning dogs, then you ’d probably heard people tell you that chocolate is poisonous for dogs. I know it sounds silly that something tastes so wonderful can be dangerous for our furry friends. Do you think this is a Fact or a Fiction? We can tell you why and explain the importance of following it.

Dogs easily smell chocolate and crave for it, unfortunately. It is because they have a sweet tooth. As much as we want to give them chocolates, it is a huge NO because of this information that you need to know. Humans and dogs share the same taste for amazing delicacies and food. They see us indulging in a big bag of M&Ms and they probably crave for it. But we can’t share our chocolates with our dogs. It is not safe for them.

Truth is, chocolate is dangerous for dogs depending on the kind of chocolate they will be eating, amount they consumed, and their size or built. It seems surprising that large amounts of cocoa and chocolate can kill your pet. But it may be difficult to estimate how much chocolate they have eaten. So it is always best to know the estimate weight of your pet in case of emergencies like this.

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

chocolate Poisonous for dogs

Theobromine is a compound found in most chocolates. Human body easily metabolizes theobromine but dogs slowly metabolize this compound. Slow metabolism of this compound leads to build up until it reaches a toxic level. Around 100-150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is toxic to dogs. Less than a bar of chocolate can contain around 3000 milligrams of theobromine depending on the type of chocolate.

Once theobromine is metabolized by their body, it creates a chemical called xanthine that builds up in the liver. This chemical interferes with important enzymes that are responsible for maintaining a healthy heart rate and central nervous system. In simple terms, when xanthine interferes with healthy enzymes, it causes irregular heartbeat and breakdown of the central nervous system.

Veterinarians report that chocolate is one of the leading culprits in dog poisoning. But poisoning ultimately depends on the amount taken and the size of the dog. One amount of chocolate may not be poisonous for large dogs, but it can be lethal for small ones. Remember that there is no need to panic, there is still time to get treatment and ease your furry friend.

This is also the reason why dogs are not safe to take coffee and caffeinated products. In take of coffee also produces theobromine which leads to production of xanthine.

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Effects of Chocolate on Dogs

Dog is trying to eat chocolate

Photo Pixabay

As mentioned, the size or body built of your dog plays a role in how fast they will experience the effect of the poison. Larger dogs can eat more chocolates than smaller dogs and feel the effect much later on. The mild effect can be as simple as extreme thirst, hyperactivity, upset stomach, diarrhoea or vomiting.

Eating larger amounts can lead to serious effects like muscle tremors, shaking, irregular heartbeat, panting, internal bleeding, seizures, or even heart attack. The start of theobromine toxicity is marked by severe hyperacidity.

If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, do not wait for the warning signs to show anymore. It may take 4 to 24 hours before the effects show up. Theobromine stays long in your dog’s body. It can even stay for as long as 72 hours but immediate treatment and action can help your dog recover faster.

Once theobromine enters the dog’s bloodstreams, the chemical’s half-life is about 17.5 hours. If your furry friend accidentally eats chocolate and remains alive after 24 hours, it is safe to assume that he will be fine soon.

“My Dog Ate Chocolate” or Chocolate and Dogs Treatment

dog ate chocolate

If you suspect that your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate, the best way is to induce vomiting within two hours of eating chocolate. This could help release the buildup of theobromine in their stomach and lessen the effects. Veterinarian experts recommend that you give your dog 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide for every 20 pounds size. This could be repeated every 15 minutes. It will help your dog vomit on his own easily. You can use a medicine dropper to give the fluid.

However, if you are noticing some of the serious effects listed above, you better call the veterinarian and bring your dog to the nearest animal clinic. They will ask all the information to help you deal with the situation.

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Medical Treatment for Dog Chocolate Poisoning

If you do not have much choice but to bring your pet to the clinic, the veterinarian will recommend a few treatments depending on the condition of your pet. The most common treatment they perform is through the use of fluids and IV drugs. Do know that there is really no cure for chocolate poisoning on dogs. The veterinarians will just interfere and provide the remedy to remove the toxic chemical and assist in the side effects they are showing. This works well for most cases.

Usually, they provide a drug to force vomiting, flush the stomach with fluids to clean the remaining undigested chocolates, and give medicines to prevent the toxic compound from reaching your dog’s blood. Activated charcoal is usually administered to help absorb any remaining xanthines from the dog’s gut or any of the toxic chemical circulating its digestive system.

If your dog has other illness or is suffering from a heart condition, they are at greater risk of death than healthy dogs. Most dogs who died from chocolate poisoning have underlying conditions that made it harder for them to recover or to fight the effects of the toxin.

Can Dog Eat White Chocolate? (or Different Types) 

White chocolate is the least toxic kind of chocolate for dogs. It is made of sugar, milk and cocoa butter. White chocolate does not contain cocoa solids which has the most amount of theobromine. However, still be cautious. Small amounts of theobromine can still be toxic to our furry buddies. A small amount of high-level theobromine in dark chocolates can already poison a dog. Chocolate chip cookies can even be trouble for small dogs. Experts say that 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight can be fatal to our dogs.

Different types of chocolates have different levels of theobromine content. This may give you a bit peace of mind but do note that they are still poisonous no matter what.

The highest level of theobromine is found in cocoa, unsweetened baker’s chocolate, semisweet chocolate and dark chocolate. If your dog so happen to accidentally ate this kind of chocolates, better be on the safe side and follow the recommended treatment action for your pet. White chocolate and milk chocolate has the smallest amount of theobromine, on the other hand.

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How To Keep Your Dogs Away from Chocolates

dogs can't eat chocolate

The best way to keep your dog safe is to hide the chocolate in areas away from your pet’s reach. A high shelf or locked pantry should do the trick. There will be no way for them to sneak and take a bite from your chocolate stash.

We also have to remind other household members to keep chocolates away from tables, countertops or any exposed areas. It should be far away as possible. Holidays seem to be the most dangerous time since Easter, Halloween Trick or Treat, Thanksgiving, and Christmas make us own and keep plenty of chocolates all over the house. Keep those safely stored.

It is also great to train our dogs to “leave it”. They should understand that simple command to keep their paws away from any chocolate in sight.

Some experts recommend Crate Training to make sure they don’t grab anything within reach. The crate should be a comfortable place for him to stay in while he is unsupervised. He should remain inside the crate unless called. You can give your furry pet a blanket, stuffed toy, and treats inside the crate to entertain him. This way, you don’t need to keep watching him because trust will be built and you can have plenty of time to accomplish your tasks.

Keep in mind that chocolate is a delightful treat for us, but it is NEVER  a good treat for our dogs. Most dogs do not know when they are full. They can eat a pound of chocolate easily without feeling anything at first. Even a bite can lead to an upset stomach or worse.

The holiday season is just around the corner. Animal hospitals report that this is the time of the year when they get the most reports of chocolate poisoning among dogs. Good thing that they don’t encounter dogs dying from chocolate poisoning because they can produce immediate treatment to help the animal.

As much as we want them to enjoy eating our favorite chocolate, it is much better to keep them away from any chocolate rather than having to see them experience the ill effects of eating this tasty treat. We are sure there are plenty of other treats available for them to safely eat.

You can still do the sweet treat with treat-makers. Make sure to check our article “Bake-A-Bone: Dog Treat Maker Review and Recipes

About the author

Mark Braeden

Mark is the dog breeder for 17 years. Mark also has 4 dogs: Alaskan Malamute, Clumber Spaniel, Irish Terrier and Mutt. Mark also into latest technologies and he is trying all the latest dog gadgets & technologies on the market and sharing his experience.

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