Dogs and Chocolate

chocolate is toxic to dogsDid you know that chocolate is toxic to your dog?  Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which contain caffeine and a related chemical compound called theobromine, which is what poses the real threat for dogs.  Dogs metabolize theobromine at a much slower pace than humans.  Chocolate poisoning in dogs is very common since dogs will eat just about anything and chocolate is no exception.  Even a small amount of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, but what is considered a toxic amount of chocolate really depends upon the type of chocolate eaten and the

weight of the dog.

Types of chocolate that pose the greatest threat

Some types of chocolate contain more theobromine than others.  If you were to list types of chocolates from least amount of threat to greatest, then white chocolate would pose the least amount of threat as it contains very little theobromine, milk chocolate contains a little more, semi-sweet chocolate more than both of those, next would be unsweetened bakers chocolate, and lastly, with the greatest amount of threat, is dark chocolate.

Guidelines to determining if your dog has eaten too much

A guideline to follow is that every one ounce of milk chocolate consumed per pound of body weight is potentially lethal to your dog.  Below are some examples of body weight measured against the type and amount of chocolate that could be potentially threatening to your dog:

9 pound dog:

Milk Chocolate – 9 ounces considered toxic

Semi-sweet chocolate – 3 ounces considered toxic

Bakers chocolate – 1 ounce considered toxic

27 pound dog:

Milk chocolate – 27 ounces considered toxic

Semi-sweet chocolate – 9 ounces considered toxic

Bakers chocolate – 3 ounces considered toxic

63 pound dog:

Milk chocolate – 63 ounces considered toxic

Semi-sweet chocolate – 21 ounces considered toxic

Bakers chocolate – 7 ounces considered toxic

Signs and symptoms

Your first clue into the fact that your dog has eaten too much chocolate is that he will most likely begin to have diarrhea and start vomiting.  You may also notice signs of hyperactivity and agitation or your dog may begin having seizures.  It will be necessary to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.  Although there is no specific antidote for chocolate poisoning the vet can help by inducing vomiting, if it hasn’t already occurred, giving fluids, and intravenous drugs to limit seizures and protect the heart.

cocoa shell mulch is toxic to dogs

Cocoa shell mulch

One more thing to note, beware of cocoa shell mulches used for landscaping!  Some manufacturers remove the theobromine from their mulch while others do not.  It may not be possible for consumers to know which brands have it and which don’t, so the best advice would be to stay away from it altogether as it can pose the same threat to them as eating chocolate.

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