We’ve heard it over and over and we know that dogs are not supposed to eat chocolate. But with the presence of all kinds of chocolate goodies with Halloween and the upcoming holiday season, and the fact that most dogs will eat just about anything – it’s the perfect time for a reminder.
Still, you must want to know more. Just how much chocolate is hazardous to our pets? Are some types of chocolate more dangerous than others? And what are the signs of toxicity from chocolate, and what should you do if your dog does consume chocolate? Keep reading for all the facts on the delicious delicacy that’s a definite no-no for pets.
Is any amount of chocolate okay for dogs?
The simple answer is no. While some types of chocolate are worse than others (think baker’s and dark chocolate), chocolate consumption can make dogs sick and can even be fatal.
What’s so bad about chocolate?
Chocolate is made from cocoa, and the cocoa beans contain the natural stimulants theobromine and caffeine. While caffeine consumption is dangerous to pets, it’s the theobromine that causes the worst symptoms since dogs metabolize it slowly, much more slowly than humans. According to a recent article,“Dogs and Chocolate: Get the Facts,” on WebMD, “even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Truly toxic amounts can induce hyperactivity, tremors, high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.”
How do various types of chocolate compare?
Different types of chocolate vary in toxicity based on the amount of theobromine they contain. An easy guide is the color of the chocolate – darker chocolate is most dangerous, with baking chocolate containing the most theobromine and white chocolate, the least. And naturally, it’s not just the type of chocolate consumed, but also the amount consumed relative to your dog’s body weight.
Direct from the WebMD article referenced above and at the link further below, the estimates that follow demonstrate how the type of chocolate consumed and the size of the dog impact toxicity.
• A 9-pound dog could be expected to show symptoms of chocolate toxicity after eating 1 ounce of baking chocolate, 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, or 9 ounces of milk chocolate.
• A 27-pound dog might have such symptoms after eating 3 ounces of baking chocolate, 9 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, and 27 ounces of milk chocolate.
• A 63-pound dog might exhibit symptoms after eating 7 ounces of baking chocolate, 21 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, or 63 ounces of milk chocolate.
Signs of Chocolate Consumption and What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea and excessive thirst and urination. The symptoms are more severe, and could also include restlessness and hyperactivity, if your dog has consumed a greater amount of chocolate.
If your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your vet immediate with the amount and type of chocolate. You may also contact a 24-hour poison control center, such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or National Animal Poison Control Center at (900)-680-0000.
How about cats and chocolate?
Chocolate consumption by cats is also dangerous due to the substance theobromine. However, as Morris will tell you, cats are a finicky bunch and simply don’t like chocolate so there are few instances of chocolate poisoning.
Lastly, prevent your dog from the risk of chocolate poisoning by keeping all chocolate out of reach and letting house guests (including trick-or-treaters) know that it’s unsafe for dogs to eat chocolate. While you can deny those pleading eyes because you know the consequences, those that are unaware may not be so resistant!
Read the article “Dogs and Chocolate: Get the Facts” from WebMD for more information.
Read Woof Report’s past tip, “Keeping Your Dog Safe This Halloween”
Thank you to A30_Tsitika on flickr for the photo of Chelsea.