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Chocolate and Dogs
Chocolate ingestion is one of the most common reasons for a trip to the veterinarian. The problem with chocolate is that dogs will actually crave it once they have had a taste, and this can lead to serious problems. Although the reaction to chocolate may vary from dog to dog, chocolate is poisonous for dogs and may lead to death if enough is consumed.
Chocolate, as well as foods containing chocolate should be kept away from dogs at all times. Symptoms may not appear for a few hours, and may be confused for another illness. The most important thing to look for when dealing with chocolate toxicity is hyperactivity. Some dog owners have even described their dog’s chocolate poisoning as a person being drunk. However, this is no laughing matter.
The longer chocolate stays in your dog’s system without treatment, the more damage it will do. Chocolate poisoning may eventually lead to cardiac arrest. Always consult your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine. Theobromine is found in the cocoa bean and causes increased urination and affects the nervous system and heart. It is a chemical stimulant that belongs in the same category as caffeine and theophylline.
Most chocolates vary with the amount of theobromine it contains but even in small doses it can create a large problem for dogs and make them very ill. There is no known antidote to cure a dog with chocolate poisoning, so it is very important that chocolate be kept away from dogs.
Theobromine is also found in tea, Cola and certain types of berries.
What Does Chocolate Do to Dogs?
A dog’s body cannot handle chocolate because theobromine metabolizes much more slowly than in a human’s body. Chocolate can stay in your dog’s system for up to 20 hours. During this time, it may interfere with your dog’s nervous system, heart muscles as well as the kidneys.
How chocolate will affect your dog depends on his size, reaction to theobromine and caffeine and his overall health. A dog with a weaker immune system or one that is prone to illness may show signs of ailment quicker than a healthy dog who consumes chocolate. The amount and type of chocolate will also depend on how ill he may become.
Symptoms will start to show within 12 hours of ingestion. Some symptoms include restlessness and diarrhea. To Learn more, visit our page on dog chocolate poisoning symptoms.
Types of Chocolate Dogs May Eat
The amount of theobromine varies between different types of chocolate. Certain types of chocolate may not pose a serious risk for your dog, but may just give him a bout of diarrhea and vomiting. However, some types of chocolate, such as baker’s chocolate or unsweetened chocolate may cause serious damage and lead to death if not treated right away.
The following shows the types of chocolate from least harmful to most dangerous:
- White chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate
- Baker’s chocolate
Below is a rough estimate of a toxic dosage amount for dogs:
- 1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for milk chocolate
- 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 ounce per 6 pounds of body weight for sweet cocoa
- 1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for baker’s chocolate.
As an example, 2 ounces of baker’s chocolate is very dangerous for a 10-15 pound dog. However, 2 ounces of milk chocolate may only cause digestive problems.
As for white chocolate, this is the least dangerous to your dog. It contains the least amount of theobromine, roughly 1mg per ounce of chocolate. However, baker’s chocolate contains around 465mg of theobromine per ounce. This is a big difference for the life of your dog.