Will Chocolate Kill My Dog?

If you’re like us, you probably give your dog table treats from time to time. While this practice is okay in moderation, you must stay away from giving your dog chocolate and here’s why: Chocolate ingested by dogs is the most common form of canine poisoning. And small dogs, naturally, are even more susceptible to this poisoning because of their size. Here’s more information you need to know if your dog ate chocolate.

What’s the Culprit?

According to the ASPCA, it all has to do with a compound called theobromine. It’s bad enough that cocoa beans contain caffeine but the problem with theobromine is that dogs metabolize this compound slower than a human does. The buzz humans get from eating chocolate lasts about half an hour, but for a dog it could take as much as 17 hours.

What Amount is Toxic?

The worst variety of chocolate is unsweetened baker’s chocolate which contains 390 milligrams of theobromine per ounce.  This is 10 times more than milk chocolate, twice as much as semisweet chocolate and way more than white chocolate, which contains almost none. Toxic amounts of chocolate in dogs can induce tremors, seizures, palpitations, respiratory failure and even cardiac arrest.

Another Danger

If you love dark chocolate for its health benefits as well as taste, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, dark chocolate is one of the most dangerous types of chocolate. There have been pet deaths reported with theobromine levels as low as 115 mg per kilogram – or 2.2 pounds – of body weight. Let’s do the math: In a 22-pound dog it would only take 20 ounces of milk chocolate, 10 ounces of semisweet chocolate and just 2.25 ounces of baking chocolate to put him in serious danger.

What to Do

If your dog has eaten chocolate and you’re worried, call the vet or an emergency veterinary clinic right away. How your animal reacts is going to depend on how much chocolate and how big he is. You want to get your dog to throw up to get as much theobromine out of his system as possible. The quicker you get your dog to the vet the better.

Keep any chocolate at of the reach of dogs.  If you have a dog who likes to counter surf, make sure you put chocolate behind a closed and, if need be, locked cabinet.


Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

Dog ate chocolate: Have you experienced this before?

Further reading: 10 poisonous food your dog should never eat. 



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