Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate - a natural and delicious endorphin. For humans, anyway. If your dog manages to eat some of this tasty treat, they will definitely not be happy.
What about chocolate is so toxic to dogs? It contains the chemical theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Dogs can't metabolise theobromine as well as humans, so it becomes dangerous for them to eat.
- Abnormally fast heart rate
- Excessive urination
- Increased thirst
- Muscle spasms
The chance your dog will eat any chocolate massively increases at Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day. But how much chocolate can a dog eat before getting ill?
It depends on the size of the dog.
Smaller dogs are particularly vulnerable to chocolate poisoning because they are smaller in weight. Therefore, puppies, especially, are at risk - they are also much more like to eat something they shouldn't, and haven't grasped house rules or cues like 'leave-it'.
With milk chocolate, if your dog eats more than 14g per pound of body weight, they are at risk of chocolate poisoning.
If your dog eats dark chocolate, more than 4g per pound of bodyweight will cause chocolate poisoning.
Can your dog die from eating chocolate, then? Yes. Too much theobromine in your dog's system is lethal and can result in death.
A fatality is less likely with quick treatment, as the vet will remove as much of the chocolate from your dog's stomach as possible. Doing so will prevent too much of this toxin from entering your dog's system. Hopefully, this will be enough to stop your dog from suffering any severe side effects.
When you go to the vets, take the product (or a photo) with you so they can calculate the amount ingested and the toxicity. Some chocolate is more toxic than others. Dogs can eat white chocolate, for example, with less chance of poisoning because it contains less theobromine. Dark or baking chocolate contains a high level of cocoa, and consequently, theobromine, so are a much more significant risk to your dog.
- Chocolate poisoning affects the nervous and cardiovascular systems, causing hyperactive behaviour and high heart rate, along with other signs.
- Dogs with chocolate will definitely ruin your day, so keep all chocolatey snacks out of your dog's reach.
If you're concerned your dog may have eaten large amounts of chocolate, call your veterinarian. Treatment might vary depending on what type of chocolate and how much of it your dog ate.
Emesis - Your vet will induce vomiting to remove as much of the chocolate from your dog's system as quickly as possible.
Activated charcoal - Afterwards, they will give your dog activated charcoal to prevent your dog's body from absorbing any more toxins. It will help reduce the amount of theobromine that enters your dog's circulatory system.
IV Fluids - Chocolate poisoning can leave your dog extremely dehydrated. Your vet might give your pet fluids to rehydrate them whilst also helping flush the toxins out quicker.
The vet will be concerned with heart rate irregularities, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Supportive treatment will help make your pet more comfortable. There is no antidote, so the sooner you get your dog treated, the better.
If your puppy has eaten chocolate, getting them to the vet is even more urgent, as they will react worse to the toxins than older, larger dogs.