If you’re a pet person, I suppose you’ve heard that chocolate is poisonous for dogs. However, you might have witnessed your fluffy friend treat themself to the yummy stuff only to show no ill effects.
Why then do people keep saying chocolate is not safe for dogs? Below we highlight what makes chocolate a risk for dogs and why you should be careful with it.
Is chocolate safe for dogs to eat?
No, it is not safe for dogs to eat large amounts of chocolate as it can be poisonous due to its theobromine content. Dogs cannot effectively metabolize theobromine, and large consumptions can be fatal, especially if the dog is young (puppy), pregnant, or have other health conditions. It is, however, safe for dogs to eat certain chocolates in small amounts.
How much chocolate can kill a dog?
According to ASPCA, dogs show symptoms of chocolate (theobromine) poisoning at a dosage of 20mg of theobromine per kilogram they weigh. Severe signs begin at about 40mg/kg and seizures start at a dosage of 60mg/kg. Since the dosage is measured per kilogram of dog, there is no way to determine a universal “fatal chocolate dosage” for all dog breeds.
In layman’s terms, the larger the dog size the more chocolate amount it can consume without reaching toxic levels. For example, a small dosage for a Siberian Husky or German Shepard could be a potentially life-threatening amount for a chihuahua.
Which chocolates can kill a dog?
Although chocolate poisoning in dogs depends on the amount of chocolate consumed and the dog’s weight, some chocolate types are more toxic to dogs than others due to their higher theobromine content. These chocolates contain the highest amounts of theobromine (in descending order):
- Cocoa powder (most toxic)
- Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
How soon after eating chocolate will a dog get sick?
Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs appear within 6 to 12 hours of eating chocolate. The difference in duration depends on dog size, breed, and the amount of chocolate consumed. The symptoms can last up to 72 hours.
Side effects of chocolate on dogs
Methylxanthines in chocolate (theobromine and caffeine) act as stimulants. These chemicals inhibit the activation of adenosine receptors responsible for making us feel sleepy. The chemicals make dogs nauseous and vomit, and larger consumption can lead to high heart rate, diarrhea, hyperactivity. Extreme chocolate dosage causes tremors, seizures, and potentially death in dogs.
While small chocolate consumption is unlikely to get your fluffy friend sick, one study found that repeated exposure to theobromine leads to cardiomyopathy in dogs. This is a chronic disease of the heart muscles that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate
If your dog eats large amounts of chocolate and shows any of the chocolate poisoning symptoms, it is best to rush them to a veterinarian. The most common treatment procedures vets use include the use of IV drugs and fluids, apomorphine to induce vomiting, and activated charcoal to prevent theobromine from getting into the dog’s bloodstream. Vets often carry out stomach pumping to flush the stomach with fluids.
What are the signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs?
The most common signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, increased thirst, restlessness, excessive urination, elevated heart rate. In severe cases, dogs will experience muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.
If you notice your dog displaying any of these signs after eating chocolate, make an emergency visit to your vet because chocolate poisoning can kill dogs.
Can a dog recover from chocolate poisoning?
YES. Dogs can recover from chocolate poisoning but can take up to three days to recover. The recovery period depends mainly on how much chocolate the dog ate relative to their body weight. In other words, if the poisoning is mild it will take about a day, but if it is severe it can take several days.
If you’re wondering whether it is safe for dogs to eat chocolate, the safest answer is NO. Even small amounts consumed over an extended period can cause health complications later on. On the other hand, large one-time consumption can result in chocolate poisoning, which in severe cases can lead to death.