Why is Chocolate toxic to dogs?
I love chocolate! Chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, if it’s chocolate I love it. Are you a chocolate lover? Humans are not the only ones that love chocolate. Dogs do too. But chocolate is toxic to dogs. How toxic depends on three things:
- The type of chocolate
- The amount of chocolate
- The weight and size of the dog
Why is Chocolate poison to dogs and not to us?
There are two things in chocolate that are poisonous to dogs; theobromine and caffeine. The level of caffeine is much lower than the level of theobromine. Both, however, are stimulants. It is up to us to make sure they never get their paws on it. Just like human chocoholics, once a dog gets a taste of chocolate they crave more.
Dogs (and cats and other animals) metabolize theobromine much slower than humans. Because of that their heart, kidneys and central nervous system can be adversely affected.
All Chocolates Are Not Equal
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine. Generally speaking, the higher the quality, the higher amount of theobromine it contains. We hear all the time about dark chocolate being beneficial to our health. It is higher in theobromine than milk chocolate, so it’s not good for a dog’s health.
So How Much is Too Much?
As already stated, it depends on the amount, the type, the weight and size of the dog. It would take a lot of white chocolate to cause a dog to get sick, but only 2 Oz’s of baker’s chocolate can make a 20-lb. dog very sick! You can find a chocolate toxicity calculator HERE.
What Are the Symptoms?
Signs and symptoms usually begin within a few hours after the dog ate the chocolate.
Early signs are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal distention
Symptoms of more advanced poisoning are:
- Increased heart rate
- Excitement, hyperactivity or nervousness (may be trembling)
- Excessive panting
- Increased water intake and urination (sometimes incontinence)
- Muscle spasms
What to do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Chocolate or is Showing Early Signs:
If you see signs that your dog has eaten chocolate, as in bits and pieces of chocolate wrappings on the floor or he is showing early symptoms, induce vomiting immediately.
Make a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide (3%) and water. The dose is 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of body weight. Use a needle-less syringe, to get it down his throat and make him swallow it. You may add a bit of honey to make it taste better and he will probably take it better. Walk him around for a few minutes to get some movement. He should throw up within 15 minutes. Then take him immediately to the veterinarian.
Do not attempt to make him vomit if he shows advanced symptoms or if you know it has been more than 2 hours since he ate the chocolate. Take him immediately to a veterinarian emergency.
The number in the US for Animal Poison Control Center hotline is 1-888-426-4435. Always keep this number handy. I have it on my refrigerator.