At some point in time, every dog owner will wonder whether they can feed their dog some chocolate or not. Because, well let’s face it, who doesn’t love chocolate? But, knowing that many human foods are toxic to dogs, it’s a good thing you’re doing your research here.
Depending on who you’ve heard from, you might have gotten answers like “yeah, chocolate is fine!” all the way to “no! chocolate will kill your dog!”.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Both answers are right.
How? Let’s see.
Dogs And Chocolate, Are They A Good Match?
The most basic answer to this question is, NO, dogs can’t eat chocolate, because chocolate is poisonous and toxic to dogs.
In fact, chocolate is one of the most common reason for dog poisoning. So don’t feel shy for being here and asking this question, you’ve done a much better job than a whole lot of other dog owners out there who fed their Fido chocolate without doing their homework!
However, the exact level of toxicity and harm that chocolate will inflict on your dog depends heavily on the type of chocolate they eat, the amount of chocolate they eat and how big or small your dog is (I’ll explain this part in detail in a bit).
If you’re anything like me and you like to stick to the safe side, never give your dog chocolate as a reward. There are many other safer options out there, and it’s not worth the risk.
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate? And Does Chocolate Kill Dogs?
Chocolate contains a very toxic and deadly component in it to dogs called theobromine.
To humans, theobromine can very easily be broken down in the body, but dogs have a much more difficult time processing it and breaking it down, which poses a very serious toxicity risk to them.
Now that we’ve covered how theobromine harms your dog, it must be said that different types of chocolate contain varying levels of theobromine.
Generally, the darker the chocolate is, the higher the levels of theobromine are, while the brighter the chocolate is (or the whiter the chocolate is, if you will), the lower the levels of theobromine are.
This is why it only requires a very small amount of dark chocolate to result in serious poisoning to your dog, while you have a little bit more lee-way with whiter chocolate.
How Much Chocolate Can A Dog Eat?
As we talked about above, if your dog eats a single, small piece of chocolate (and ideally it’s leaning towards the whiter side than the darker side), it usually doesn’t contain enough theobromine to cause harm to your dog, so there’s no need to panic.
But, if your dog’s size is small and you suspect that they’ve eaten a fairly large amount of chocolate, you have to IMMEDIATELY get in touch with your veterinarian.
Stick to the safe side and don’t feed your dog any chocolate at all, this way you won’t have anything to worry about.
My Dog Ate Chocolate, What Should I Do?
If your dog ate only a small amount of chocolate, chances are the damage will be minimal, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea and/or some vomiting.
However, if your dog ate a large amount of chocolate, and hence a large amount of theobromine has made its way into their system, this can lead to some serious results.
But, how can you tell if a serious amount of theobromine has made its way into your dog’s system? Here are some symptoms that you should be aware of (note that these signs can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours after your dog has eaten the chocolate to show):
- Muscle tremors and shaking
- Heartbeat irregularities
- Heart attack
- Internal bleeding
- Extreme hyperactivity and way too much energy
- Increased thirst
- Increase in body temperature
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Increase in breathing speed/Panting
These symptoms can last up to 72 hours in your dog’s system, and the earlier you take them to the veterinarian and have professional help do their job, the easier their recovery process will be. The more time you take to react and get your dog professional taken care of, the more complicated the recovery process will become, and the more costly it will be for you.
It has been pointed out time and time again by animal care professionals that the time dog owners take to react to this situation is critical in determining the chances of their dog to properly heal from chocolate intoxication, so do the right thing!