Chocolate. A sweet treat tracing back more than 3,000 years to the Maya, Toltec, and Azrec people who prepared a beverage from the fruit of the cocoa bean. Consumed as candy, used to make beverages, and added as a flavoring or coating for confections and baked products, chocolate may be a delicious treat for humans but for dogs it can be dangerous!
Chocolate contains an alkaloid called theobromine, which has stimulating effects similar to caffeine. While humans can metabolize theobromine quickly, many animals- including dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits- cannot and even a small amount of it can poison them! The same amount of theobromine stays in pets’ bodies much longer, giving it more time to pile up and cause harm. Since dogs have trouble digesting theobromine, ingestion of chocolate can lead to hyperactivity, tremors, panting, and a racing heartbeat, vomiting and diarrhea, and even seizures. Chocolate poisoning in dogs affects the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system the most. Symptoms typically occur between 4 and 24 hours after ingestion and they can last for 72 hours or more.
Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate are more likely to be toxic to your dog. However, this doesn’t mean other types of chocolate aren’t toxic for your pets!
For a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is- so keep that cooking chocolate safely hidden away! For reference: 50lb dogs toxic doses
- Milk Chocolate: approximately 8 ounces
- Dark Chocolate: approximately 4 ounces
- Baker’s Chocolate: approximately 2 ounces
- White Chocolate: Really isn’t even chocolate so even 80
ounces won’t need ER treatment but still shouldn't be fed!
If your dog has ingested ANY amount of chocolate, it’s best to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Here are some clinical signs to look out for, should your furry friend dine on some form of chocolate:
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle tension or incoordination
- Increased heart rate
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
- Increased urination