If your dog eats cookies with a few chocolate chips, it is not really an issue to worry about. However, certain types of chocolate can pose to be a problem for your dog's health. The less sweet and darker variety can be toxic to your pet. The chemical toxicity in chocolates is due to the presence of methylxanthine (theobromine), and commonly results in vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation of the pancreas. Some dog owners can also notice an abnormal heart rhythm, hyperactivity, muscle incoordination, and seizures when the pet consumes large and serious quantities of chocolate.
Theobromine is a poisonous stimulant for dogs and mainly affects the heart, central nervous system, and kidneys. Symptoms may not occur immediately and can even take a full day before making an appearance. The severeness of the symptoms varies with the amount and type of chocolate consumed by the dog. Baking chocolate, in all doses, can be lethal for the dog.
What happens if a dog eats chocolate? Typically you should not give any chocolate to your dog but if for some reason they have consumed a lot of chocolate and are showing signs of chocolate poisoning, you can treat them by consulting a veterinarian. Signs of poisoning can occur depending on the amount of chocolate your dog has consumed. White chocolate contains minimal amount of theobromine while baking chocolate is very high on the chemical. This means that consumption of lesser amounts of baking chocolate can still result in highly adverse results in a dog while the same dog would have to consume higher amounts of white chocolate to feel the same results. Another important actor to consider when talking about the level of poisoning is the weight of the dog. A lighter dog can get easily poisoned while a heavier dog will need a heavier dosage.
So, how can one treat their dog for poisoning from chocolate? There is no direct antidote for theobromine and most veterinarians would try to get the chemical out of the dog's system. A common way to do so is by making him vomit out the contents of his stomach as soon as possible (preferably, right after the dog has consumed chocolate). This will be followed by a cleansing process of the stomach. Then, the doctor might feed your dog with some activated charcoal which will absorb any theobromine left in the intestine.
To treat the severe symptoms that accompany chocolate poisoning, a veterinarian can give your dog sedatives to calm the pet, anti convulsants to treat seizures, and specific heart medication in case your dog's heartbeat cannot be regulated. Antacids are given to relieve them of diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
Chocolates may seem like a benign food item but can have life threatening effects on your dog. Thus, you should make sure that it is kept away from his reach or he may end up harming himself! Be a responsible pet owner for your furry friend!
How much chocolate can a dog eat
You might be wondering how much chocolate can a dog eat. It will depend on several factors such as the type of chocolate and the dog size. Chocolate comes in different forms and the amount of cocoa that they contain will also vary accordingly. It has been seen that darker chocolates will contain more cocoa meaning it will have more throbromine.
Here is a list of the most common type of chocolate that you find in the market and the amount of throbromine that each of them contains
- White Chocolate – Insignificant amount of theobromine as it does not contain any cocoa liquor and is only made of cocoa butter, milk and sugar
- Milk Chocolate – 44-64 mg of theobromine per ounce
- Dark Chocolate – 150-160 mg of theobromine per ounce
- Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 450 mg of theobromine per ounce
- Dry Cocoa Powder – 800 mg of theobromine per ounce
Thus, one can see that the darker the chocolate and the more amount of cocoa liquor that the chocolate contains, more toxic it will be to the dogs. Another contributing factor to the toxicity of the chocolate is the size of the dog that ingests the chocolate. In order for the chocolate to be toxic, the dose of theobromine is about 100-200 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight of the dog. But, even 20 mg of theobromine for every 2.2 pounds of body weight is also considered to show a lot of problems. If you are unable to assess how much chocolate can a dog eat, there is a much easier way to find out. Using the following table, you can easily find out how much chocolate is poisonous to your dog
- White Chocolate – Usually safe to consume
- Milk Chocolate – 1 oz. per pound of body weight
- Dark Chocolate – 1 oz. per 3 pounds of body weight
- Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 1 oz. per 9 lbs of body weight
It is interesting to note that a typical candy is about 2-3 ounces. Thus, a large dog will be safe if it consume a few milk chocolate bars without any problem, but even one square of baking chocolate will be dangerous enough to kill a small dog. But, each dog is different and there are times where even large dogs can experience problems with low levels too. Thus, it is best to keep all chocolate away from dogs at all times no matter how big or small they are.
If your dog has ingested chocolate even in small amount, you need to contact your local veterinarian and seek advice as soon as possible. Vets can usually treat chocolate poising by different methods such as inducing vomiting and offering supportive therapy. Thus, it is important that you do not keep any chocolates where they can be easily reached by your dog and not to give it to them even during the holiday times as you might never be sure how toxic it might be to them.