Chocolate is one of many humans’ favorite sweet treats. Biting into a block of chocolate is a pleasure for many. Have you ever thought about sharing this experience with your dog? If you love it so much, surely they’d love some too.. right?
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Is chocolate safe for dogs to eat?
Chocolate contains methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine), both of which are stimulants and toxic to dogs. Chocolate is also high in fat and this can cause pancreatitis. Dogs do not breakdown methylxanthines as well as humans and this allows it to build up. The higher the concentration of cocoa (i.e. the darker the chocolate), the more dangerous it is for dogs. Cocoa powder and bakers chocolate are the most toxic with milk chocolate and white chocolate being less toxic. Ingestion of 1 oz/kg of milk chocolate can cause symptoms. Ingestion of 2 oz/kg of milk chocolate or 0.2 oz/kg of bakers chocolate can cause death.
Symptoms can begin to appear in several hours and last up to 72 hours. If left untreated, it may lead to coma or death. You can try and induce vomiting within the first hour with 3% hydrogen peroxide. If your dog has ingested chocolate or any product containing chocolate (e.g. chocolate chip cookie, hot chocolate) and experiences the symptoms below, call your vet or pet poison hotline immediately.
Why is chocolate so bad for dogs?
The main reason chocolate being so bad for dogs is that it contains both theobromine and caffeine. Both of these do not metabolize properly in dogs like they do in humans. Theobromine and caffeine are diuretics that stimulate your heart, dilates your blood vessels, and relax muscles. As humans, we get a buzz from eating chocolate. This doesn’t last long and will more than likely be gone within an hour of consumption, but it doesn’t leave the body this soon for dogs. A dog can consume the same amount of theobromine as a human, and 17 hours later, it will still have half that amount left in its body. The smallest amount of chocolate can cause a dog to vomit and have diarrhea. Larger amounts can be fatal. While it is not common for a dog to die from accidentally eating some chocolate, avoid it at all costs as they may get incredibly sick.
What to give your dog instead of chocolate
The perfect alternative to chocolate for dogs is unsweetened carob. Unsweetened carob does not contain any theobromine, which is what makes chocolate so toxic to your pup. Not only does the carob look surprisingly like chocolate, but it also comes with health benefits for your dog. Carobs are packed with fiber, nutrients, and vitamins and can benefit your dog’s digestive system. With many humans enjoying chocolate, it’s a fun treat to give your dog something similar, and many people have realized this as there is a wide variety of carob dog treats on the market. Not only this, most dogs enjoy the taste of carob and will happily eat up this non-chocolaty treat.
Are dogs allergic to chocolate?
Essentially, yes. Chocolate is incredibly toxic to dogs and, if consumed, can have many effects on your pup, from vomiting and diarrhea to less noticeable symptoms such as increased thirst, excessive urination, panting, restfulness, and a racing heart.
Symptoms won’t show up immediately after consumption and will likely appear within 6-12 hours after being eaten.
What to do if your dogs eats chocolate?
Accidents happen, and dogs are sneaky little creatures. So what do you do if your dog has eaten chocolate? Take them to the vet immediately if a large amount has been eaten. It doesn’t take much for chocolate to be harmful. It can be as little as 0.5 ounces per pound of body weight. Of course, your dog’s weight and the type of chocolate eaten do come into play, and fortunately, an accidental bite of chocolate shouldn’t do much more than a stomach ache, but you can never be too careful.
When taking your dog to the vet, try to bring the chocolate wrapping with you, so the vet has a clear indication of what has been ingested, this alongside the weight of your dog, should determine the course of action needed to be taken. Once at the vet, your dog will be assessed and may be given an IV to administer fluids as well as drugs to induce vomiting. In serious cases, stomach pumping may be needed to stop the chocolate from getting into your dog’s bloodstream.
As much as you may love a piece of chocolate as a treat, keep it far away from your dogs. No matter how big the puppy dog eyes are, you cannot share this treat with your furry friend. If you insist on giving them something similar to chocolate, opt for unsweetened carob to keep your dog healthy and happy.