Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?

Golden retriever next to a bar of chocolate asking is chocolate bad for dogs?

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Even if you’re not a dog owner yourself, you probably still heard somewhere that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate. But why is chocolate bad for dogs? And is it really that bad that they can’t even have the smallest amounts?

All chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but the level of damage it causes your dog depends on the type of chocolate he ate. It also depends on the amount that he consumed and on your dog’s size. If your dog consumed large enough amounts of chocolate, in the worst case scenario it could even kill him.

Why is chocolate so bad for dogs?

The one ingredient in chocolate that is so toxic for dogs is called theobromine. While humans can very easily metabolize this ingredient, dogs can’t. The process takes much longer in a canine’s digestive system. That allows the ingredient to build up to toxic levels in the dog. That’s why bigger dogs can take larger amounts before it becomes lethal. If you give your dog only small amounts of chocolate, theobromine won’t be able to accumulate in their body. In those cases your dog might only experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or an upset stomach.

In large amounts theobromine can cause symptoms such as:

  1. Muscle tremors
  2. Irregular heartbeats
  3. Seizures
  4. Intestinal bleeding
  5. Heart attacks

The first symptom your dog might be experiencing after theobromine poisoning is often severe hyperactivity.

How is theobromine poisoning treated?

The most common treatment for theobromine poisoning is induced vomiting one or two hours after the ingestion. Either way you will have to call your vet and bring your dog for a check up immediately.

Is all chocolate equally bad for dogs?

How toxic a chocolate is depends on the theobromine levels in it. Pure cocoa powder, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the biggest levels of theobromine, and are therefore the most toxic. Milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest levels, and are a bit less dangerous for dogs. If you think that your dog ate even the smallest amount of dark chocolate, be on the lookout for theobromine poisoning symptoms. It takes only small amounts to cause some serious distinctions in their body. Especially if your dog is smaller, even one small piece of dark chocolate is worth mentioning to your vet.

My dog just ate chocolate! What should I do?

If you’re suspecting that your dog ate chocolate, or you unknowingly gave chocolate to your dog – contact your vet IMMEDIATELY! Depending on the type of chocolate and the size of your dog, he could be in some serious danger.

Theobromine can cause tremors and seizures so make sure to not leave your dog on it’s own while your panicking and looking for a solution.

Try to find out which type of chocolate and how much of it your dog ate before going to your vet. But the most important thing here, however, still is to get to the vet as soon as possible. That way he can induce vomiting and help your dog to get the theobromine out of his system.

*If you want to know more about which human food is good or bad for dogs, read this.

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