Dogs eat almost anything edible they come across including chocolates. But are they good for your dog? With their excellent sense of smell, it will be difficult to hide chocolate bars in the house.
So what will you do? Will you think of better hiding spots? Will you stop buying chocolate? Well, that will depend on what you prefer but if you will bring chocolate to your home, keep it away from your dogs. In this article, you will find out why you should not feed your dog chocolate and what you should do in case your pooch ingested chocolate.
Can Chocolate Kill Dogs?
Most dog owners get into a panic when their dog plunges into a bowl of chocolate- but the question that should linger your mind is; is their worry justified. Some say that chocolate can kill a dog while others dismiss it as nothing more than a mere myth. You may think it is a myth but there is some truth to it than just a myth. Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?
We humans love giving our dogs human food without background research if it has any adverse effects on dogs. You see, chocolate has toxins that would not affect humans but have some adverse effects on the canine family. Cocoa beans, which is the main component in chocolate has a chemical known as theobromine. Theobromine causes illness in dogs. An overdose of theobromine could trigger respiratory failure and heart problems, which as s result could cause death.
Chocolate Toxicity In Dogs
As earlier said, chocolate can kill dogs but what makes it so poisonous or toxic that it can end the life of your canine buddy? The answer to this query is the ingredients that make up what we call chocolate. The mains ingredients in chocolate are cocoa beans and cocoa. These two contain a chemical compound known as theobromine and traces of caffeine.
Between the two, theobromine is the most toxic than caffeine. A single ounce of milk chocolate/ pound of body weight is a potential hazard. Considering the average weight of a dog and that of a chocolate bar it would take large quantities of chocolate to have a catastrophic effect on your dog.
It is safe to say that this effect could take its toll on smaller dogs as opposed to larger breeds. However, this does not give you a safe pass to feed your dog chocolate. Therefore, keep your dog away from chocolate.
How Much Chocolate Can a Dog Eat?
The more chocolate you feed your dog, the more the levels of toxicity, which at elevated levels could kill your dog. Different chocolates have different levels of theobromine. For example, unsweetened Bakers Chocolate has 390mgs of theobromine per ounce, which is two times higher than semi-sweet chocolate and almost ten times higher than Milk Chocolate.
Toy breeds such as Cocker Spaniels have an average weight of around 15 kilograms. Yorkshire Terriers weigh about 3 kilograms while the larger breeds such as St. Bernard or Dalmatian weigh around 90 and 25 kilograms respectively. With these values, we can deduce that 900 milligrams of theobromine can kill an average Yorkshire weighing 3 kilograms.
So how much chocolate does your Yorkshire terrier need to eat for it to have a major effect on its health? The Hershey’s Kiss has 8 milligrams of theobromine. Therefore, your Yorkshire needs to consume 100 of these to result in death. It is quite possible but rare.
What would you be thinking for you to feed your tiny dog 100 chocolate bars? It is quite unrealistic. Since different breeds have different weight ranges, it is difficult to estimate the safe amount of chocolate for larger breeds. For example, the amount of theobromine that is fatal for a Yorkshire terrier would not have any effect on the St. Bernard.
Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs
Chocolate is toxic and definitely poisonous to the canine family. The reason behind its poisonous state is well in the toxicity part. Yes, chocolate is poisonous but the effect on your dog will depend on the size of the dog, amount consumed and type of chocolate.
Different types of chocolate have varying levels of theobromine. White chocolate and milk chocolate have low levels of theobromine. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate have elevated levels of theobromine.
The higher the levels of theobromine in cooking or dark chocolate the faster it is to poison your dog. It takes only a small amount of dark chocolate to poison your dog. So, try not to feed your dog either dark chocolate or cooking chocolate.
Signs of Chocolate Poisoning?
In most cases, signs of poisoning appear after 6-12 hours of consumption and may continue for up to seventy-two hours. Below are the signs:
- Increased urination
- Abnormal heart rate
- Collapse and then death occurs
For older dogs, the risk of death from chocolate poisoning is even higher.
Effects of Chocolate On Dogs
The effect varies depending on the type of chocolate consumed. Darker chocolates have more adverse effects compared to milk or white chocolate whose effects are mild. Unlike humans whose bodies metabolize theobromine faster, your dog metabolism rate is much slower.
If your dog ingests chocolate, there may be cases of intestinal distress in instances where the dog consumes about 240 grams of dark chocolate. If your dog exceeds this amount to more than ½ kg, the dog may experience tachyarrhythmia or bradycardia.
In weak dogs, the high levels of fat in chocolate products can trigger pancreatitis.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
If you are certain that your dog has eaten chocolate, especially the dark chocolates it is best if you called a vet. The vet will need to know the size of your dog, the chocolate consumed and the amount consumed. The vet will need you to induce vomit or watch your dog’s behavior.
In extreme cases, the vet summons you to the animal clinic where he/she can personally monitor progress and decide the best cause of action. If consumption occurred within two hours, the vet will induce vomit and introduce activated charcoal. Activated charcoal allows the dog’s body to eliminate the toxins without absorbing them into the bloodstream.
If you are far away from a vet, you can induce vomiting yourself. Simply use hydrogen peroxide. A single teaspoon per every 10lbs of your dog’s weight. If you are unsure of the amount of chocolate that your dog has consumed just call any animal center for more details on how to control the toxicity.
How Do you Prevent your Pooch from Consuming Chocolate
Small amounts of chocolate have very little or no effect on large dogs but that does not give you a free pass to feed your dog chocolate. It is advised to give your dog chocolate even as a treat. Below are tips that will guide you in ways to prevent your pooch from consuming chocolate even when you are not around.
1. Put the chocolate away: ensure that all chocolate related items such as hot chocolate mix and cocoa powder are safely stored away. Store it on high shelves or in closed cabinets. Also, remind your guests and children that any chocolate-related products should be well stored in places where your dog cannot access. During the holidays there will always be too much junk food lying around in the house so make sure they are well stored in enclosed places.
2. Teach your dog to leave the chocolate: Just like many other times where you teach your dog commands expecting him to follow when you utter them. In this case, you can come up with a simple command such as “leave it” which you can train your dog to follow. Every time your dog comes into contact with chocolate you simply utter the command. If the command proves to be effective, you can use it every time your dog stumbles upon chocolate or picks up left overs from the ground. For better results, do more research on the how to train your dog to follow commands.
3. Crate-train your canine buddy: The easiest and safest way to limit contact between your dog and chocolate is to crate train your dog. This will ensure that your dog does not stray even when he is not being supervised. This is a simple way of keeping your dog in check. Get a crate that is spacious enough to accommodate your dog.
It should be large enough such that your dog can easily turn around or stand up freely. This way you will know the location of your dog at all times making it easy for you to control what food your dog consumes.
Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
All cocoa products including white chocolate have theobromine. Although the theobromine contents in white chocolate are very low, it does not mean that you can feed it to your dog. Although the amount of theobromine in white chocolate is small, vets advise that dogs should not be fed any chocolate even as a treat.
Below is a list of cocoa products listed according to their theobromine content. At the top is the most toxic while at the bottom we have the less toxic chocolates:
- Cocoa powder
- Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
We humans love sharing our food with our dogs but little do we known the adverse effects that these foods have on dogs. A snack such a chocolate has chemical compounds which when consumed in large amounts could be fatal. It is in your best interest to keep your dog away from chocolate or cocoa-related products.