Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

It's no secret that chocolate is bad for dogs. But just how bad is it?

Whether it contains real sugar or a substitute, vets say that all chocolate can be poisonous for dogs.

Why can't dogs eat chocolate? Well, there are quite a few reasons. 

Keep reading to learn the many reasons why chocolate is bad for dogs.

Why Can't Dogs Have Chocolate?

Chocolate contains theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid. It's found in the cacao plant, and it's also found in foods, like the kola nut and the leaves of tea plants.

Chocolate comes from the cacao plant, so it contains both theobromine and caffeine. The two chemicals are what give humans that happy rush they enjoy when they consume chocolate. 

Both chemicals are used medicinally for humans as a heart stimulant, diuretic, smooth muscle relaxant, and blood vessel dilator. It's not a big deal, though, because our bodies can process them.

Unfortunately, dogs can't metabolize caffeine or theobromine in the way that humans can, which is why they are significantly more sensitive to the effects of those chemicals.

What Does Chocolate Do to Dogs?

Chocolate poisoning in dogs affects the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system the most. Symptoms typically occur between 4 and 24 hours after your dog has ingested chocolate, but they can last for 72 hours or more.

What it does depends greatly on the amount eaten, the type of chocolate ingested, and the size of the breed.

If a larger dog eats 200 grams of milk chocolate, for example, he'll probably suffer from an upset stomach. If it's 750 grams your beloved canine ingests, seizures, and cardiovascular problems are likely.

What Are the Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?

If your dog gets into any chocolate, take a deep breath, and stay calm. Investigate and attempt to determine how much she's eaten, what type of chocolate it was, and what the ingredients were.

If you choose to wait a bit before visiting the veterinarian, just remember that the sooner your dog gets treatment, the more likely they are to recover. 

Here are some signs to look out for, should your furry friend dive into some form of chocolate:

  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension or incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hyperactivity or restlessness
  • Increased urination
  • Tremors

As soon as you notice any symptoms or your canine acting strange, don't hesitate to take him in for a visit before it's too late.

Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?

One question many dog owners have asked is whether or not dogs can eat white chocolate. People also want to know about the many different types of chocolate, and which ones, if any, are safe for dogs.

When it comes to white chocolate, you'll still likely find theobromine, the chemical found in chocolate that's toxic to dogs. The amount is much less, though, so your dog would have to eat a lot of it to fall ill from the theobromine. But that doesn't mean it's safe!

White chocolate isn't harmless, even with low levels of theobromine. For one thing, it's very high in fat, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pups. Plus, that high-fat content puts your best friend at risk for pancreatitis.

White chocolate is also high in sugar, which can lead to urinary tract infections, diabetes, and weight gain. Thus, even though your dog is in less danger of the theobromine toxicity if she eats white chocolate, it doesn't mean she's safe.

crushed up chocolate

What About the Other Types of Chocolate?

Why does chocolate kill dogs? The answer is, it depends. Usually, however, death occurs as a result of consuming significantly high amounts of theobromine.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is packed with theobromine. Even a single 500-gram bar of dark chocolate can contain enough theobromine to kill a Labrador. 

Lower quality dark chocolate is dangerous too. While it doesn't contain as much theobromine as higher quality products, it still contains enough to cause a fatal reaction.

After a dog eats enough of any type of dark chocolate, fast and irregular heartbeats are likely. Additional symptoms could include seizures, tremors, vomiting, and even death.

Milk Chocolate

From candy to ice cream, milk chocolate exists in abundance. While its theobromine levels are lower than that of dark chocolate, it still contains enough to poison dogs. 

At the very least, a fair amount will probably result in diarrhea and vomiting. Milk chocolate also contains sugar, fat, and dangerous sugar alternatives.

Baker's or Semisweet Chocolate

Baking chocolate is dangerous! Because of its extremely high levels of theobromine, you should keep baker's chocolate far away from your pup, always and forever. Its potency is deadly for canines.

More trouble lurks in the potential for additional ingredients. Foods like Macadamia nuts, raisins, and peanut butter contribute to the already-negative effects.

Added sugar only leads to vomiting and diarrhea. It can even lead to pancreatitis, a disease that leads to an inflamed pancreas and can cause cancer. 

As a rule of paw, steer clear of all foods containing chocolate. Chocolate cake, ice cream, cookies, chocolate milk, and so many other things we eat are loaded with danger for dogs.

Take a look at the ingredient's in your pet's food too. Many of the common allergy symptoms our dogs suffer from, stems from the food they eat.

Cocoa Powder

Even more so than baker's chocolate, cocoa powder's theobromine levels are significantly high. Unsweetened cocoa powder possesses the highest concentration of methylxanthines (theobromine).

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If your dog eats chocolate, you must determine what kind and how much chocolate she ate. Without knowing the details, it's difficult to determine what the repercussions will be.

It's safe to say that your dog sneaking a few licks of your ice cream cone is much less frightful than him eating a few squares of baker's chocolate.

If any sort of dark chocolate's been consumed, don't hesitate to call your vet. There's no harm in calling to check in with a medical professional who'll help you decide the best course of action for your loyal canine. If you can't get your vet on the phone, contact poison control.

If you opt to watch your pup, remember that symptoms can begin anywhere from 4 to 24 hours after consumption. If your dog does need medical care, the sooner you get it, the better.

If the theobromine hasn't yet been absorbed, a veterinarian might only have to perform a checkup and induce vomiting. 

What Are Some Treatments?

Treatment depends on what kind of and how much chocolate was eaten. In addition to induced vomiting, activated charcoal helps to reduce the continuous recirculation and resorption of theobromine. The optimal time is every 4 to 6 hours during the first 24 hours.

Intravenous fluid therapy helps to stabilize your dog as it promotes theobromine excretion. 

Vets often prescribe medications to help slow down the heart. Theobromine and caffeine cause elevated heart rates, so it's important to alleviate those symptoms as soon as possible.

If You Can't Get to a Vet

You should always seek medical attention for your pet should he get into and eat some chocolate. If it's not possible, however, you can also induce vomiting yourself. 

Remember, if your dog acts lethargic, or if she's dehydrated or sick, is having difficulty breathing or swallowing, has had recent surgery, or has consumed sharp objects, drugs, or corrosive agents, it can be dangerous to induce vomiting.

Don't induce vomiting unless your pet is alert. If you choose to do so, give your pup 3% hydrogen peroxide. Feed him a small meal if he doesn't have any other food in his stomach.

Give your dog 1 to 2 teaspoons for every 10 pounds he weighs. Use a turkey baster on a needle-less syringe so that you can squirt the solution into the back of his tongue.

It should prompt vomiting within 10 minutes. If not, you can try another time, but no more than that. Once your pet has thrown everything up, call your vet to find out what steps you should take next.

Why Can't Dogs Eat Chocolate?

Why can't dogs eat chocolate? To dogs, chocolate is poison! It's not an old wive's tale. The theobromine in chocolate is difficult for dogs to digest, and can be fatal if too much of it gets ingested.

There are plenty of delicious treats for your pup that aren't dangerous. So, keep the chocolate in your home hidden in a spot where your beloved pet will never get to it.

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