Everything You Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate

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The Truth about Dogs and Chocolate

Dog chocolate chip cookies | | Everything you Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate
Juno is curious about chocolate chip cookie dough.

You may be thinking that it might be fun to share a piece of chocolate with your dog. After all, you know your dog would just love a taste of your chocolate treat. As sweet of a gesture as giving your dog a small piece of chocolate may seem, it is extremely important that you NEVER give your dog any chocolate. Why? Because dogs and chocolate don’t mix. That’s right. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Chocolate contains a toxin called theobromine, as well as caffeine, which your dog is unable to metabolize effectively.

Not all types of chocolates carry the same levels of toxicity. As a rule, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your dog. You may be thinking that white chocolate would be safe. Although white chocolate is not as toxic as other types of chocolate, it is still bad for your dog as your pooch can fall ill from the fat and sugar.

Three Types of Chocolate

Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate | Everything you Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate

There are several types of chocolate. It is important to understand the difference between the types of chocolate because different types have different toxicities in dogs due to their varying amounts of theobromine. Here is a brief description of three common types of chocolate your dog may accidentally consume, and the levels of theobromine each contains.

White Chocolate and Dogs

White chocolate | | Everything you Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate
Photo by Elli on Pexels.com

White chocolate is a creamy ivory colour and consists of sugar, cocoa butter, milk, vanilla, and lecithin (an emulsifier that helps the ingredients blend together). It generally has a softer texture than milk or dark chocolate and is sweet with a vanilla scent. White chocolate maintains its light appearance because it does not contain any cocoa solids. It is these solids that give the other types of chocolate their brown colouring.

White chocolate only contains 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate.

Milk Chocolate and Dogs

Milk chocolate | | Everything you Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate

Milk chocolate is probably the most popular type of chocolate. It is light brown in colour and has a creamy texture with a delicious sweet flavour. Milk chocolate contains a mixture of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. It may have an emulsifier, such as soy lecithin, which helps with making it silky smooth. Milk chocolate is sweeter and softer than dark chocolate, but not as sweet and soft as white chocolate.

Milk chocolate contains about 44-58 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate.

Dark Chocolate and Dogs

dark chocolate bar | | Everything you Need to Know About Dogs and Chocolate
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Dark chocolate has a deep brown colour and is best known for its health benefits (for humans, not dogs!). Dark chocolate is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. It may have a tiny bit of vanilla and a soy emulsifier as well. Good quality dark chocolate does not contain any dairy and has less sugar than the other two types of chocolate. The texture is firm and it may have a slightly bitter taste. Dark chocolate can be broken down into semi-sweet chocolate, bitter-sweet chocolate, and bitter chocolate.

Dark chocolate is highly concentrated and contains 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce.

Signs Your Dog Ate Chocolate

Perhaps you are worried that your dog ate chocolate and you are wondering what signs or symptoms you should be looking out for. It’s important to note that symptoms can occur anywhere from 6-24 hours from the time the chocolate was consumed and they can last for several days. Symptoms can vary depending on the size of your dog and the amount of theobromine your dog ate. You may notice any of the following symptoms if your dog is suffering from theobromine toxicity.

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Internal bleeding
  • Restlessness
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive urination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure
A list of symptoms a dog may experience when it eats chocolate.

What to do if Your Dog Ate Chocolate

If you suspect your dog ate chocolate, please contact your vet immediately. Quick treatment will increase the likelihood that your dog will recover without incident. If your vet advises you to come into the clinic, try to bring a wrapper or label from the chocolate your dog consumed. Your vet will do blood work, a biochemistry panel, as well as a fecal exam and urinalysis. These tests will allow your vet to determine if your dog’s body is reacting to any theobromine. Your dog’s vet will discuss a treatment plan with you if your dog has theobromine poisoning. Treatment may include:

  • Your vet may induce vominting if no more than 2 hours has passed since your dog ate the chocolate
  • Your vet may give your dog activated charcoal after inducing vominting to try and absorb the theobromine
  • The veterninarian may put dog your dog on an IV to try and dilute any theobromine in its bloodstream and to try to flush it out of your dog’s system.
  • Oxygen may be administed to your dog
  • Your vet may administer medication to try and stop any heart arrhythmias from occuring
  • Your vet may administer valium to control any seizures and tremors

If your vet isn’t available, call the local emergency veterinary clinic or the pet poison hotline. These professionals will walk you through what to do.

Can a Dog Recover From Eating Chocolate?

It is unlikely that your dog will die from eating chocolate unless he/she consumed a large quantity. In fact, the lethal dose of theobromine is reported to be 100-500 mg/kg of body weight in dogs. However, recovery may take several days if your dog becomes very sick and requires supportive care.

Chocolate Toxicity Calculator for Dogs

For the best online Chocolate Toxicity Calculator for Dogs I have found, click here.

Final Thoughts

Although a small amount of chocolate is unlikely to make your dog sick, the safest thing to do for your pet is to keep all chocolate out of your dog’s reach. Dogs have good noses and enjoy the taste of chocolate as much as we do, so store chocolate in a higher-up location or in a tightly sealed container that your dog cannot open.

Related Post: Juno Discovers That Chocolate is Toxic for Dogs

Happy Tail Wags xo

Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail. 

Kinky Friedman
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