Dogs and Chocolate

chocolate is toxic to dogs

Did 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 a dog will eat just about anything and chocolate is definitely one of them.  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.  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.   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

Semi-sweet chocolate – 9 ounces

Bakers chocolate – 3 ounces

63 pound dog:

Milk chocolate – 63 ounces

Semi-sweet chocolate = 21 ounces

Bakers chocolate = 7 ounces

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 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.

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 my advice would be to stay away from it altogether as dogs like to eat it and it poses the same threat to them as eating chocolate.

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