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Dogs and Chocolate

July 15 2021

Most people enjoy a piece of decadent chocolate. But, while most of us are more than happy to find any occasion to indulge in chocolate, this is one thing that you don’t want your pet to eat. Chocolate is extremely dangerous to our furry pals! A local veterinarian provides some information on chocolate toxicity in pets.

Toxicity

What makes chocolate dangerous to pets? A substance called theobromine is the culprit. Theobromine is much like caffeine, and causes the same bodily reactions. It’s a blood vessel dilator, muscle relaxant, diuretic, and heart stimulant. Dogs can’t metabolize this substance and can get very sick from eating it. Also, the sugar and fat in chocolate can lead to pancreatitis. Your pooch doesn’t have to eat a large amount to get sick: chocolate is toxic to dogs at only one pound per body weight.

Symptoms

Look out for symptoms of chocolate ingestion. These include increased water consumption, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, panting, and increased or excessive urination. Severe reactions can include seizures, muscle tremors, and perhaps even death. These symptoms generally develop within a few hours after ingestion and may last for days. Call your veterinarian immediately if you see any of these warning signs, or if you suspect that your pooch ate chocolate.

Kinds Of Chocolate

Some types of chocolate are more dangerous than others. Darker chocolate is more dangerous than lighter chocolate. Dark chocolate can contain as much as 450 mg of theobromine per ounce, which is a very toxic dose for Fido. With only about 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce, white chocolate is the least dangerous, but it’s still not safe.

Cats

What about your feline friend? Chocolate is just as dangerous for Fluffy as it is for Fido. But, cats are less likely to eat it since they are a little more finicky.

Precautions

As we all know, canines can be opportunistic eaters. If something falls on the floor, Fido will quickly snap it up. Watch your pup closely whenever you are eating chocolate. If you have young children, keep an eye on them while they are enjoying their chocolate treat. Small children often innocently give their food to pets, unaware that our canine companions can’t always eat the same foods that we do.

Our Advice on Dogs and Chocolate in 2024

Why is chocolate extremely dangerous to dogs?

Chocolate is extremely dangerous to dogs primarily due to theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine efficiently, leading to toxic accumulation. This can cause severe physiological reactions, including increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and even death. The sugar and fat content in chocolate also pose risks, potentially leading to pancreatitis. Even small amounts can be toxic, with darker chocolates posing a more significant risk due to higher theobromine concentrations. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if a dog ingests chocolate.

What are the symptoms of chocolate ingestion in dogs?

Chocolate ingestion in dogs can vary in severity but typically includes increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, elevated heart rate, and excessive urination. In more severe cases, symptoms can escalate to tremors, seizures, and potentially life-threatening cardiac issues. These symptoms usually develop within a few hours after ingestion and can persist for several days, depending on the amount of chocolate consumed and the dog’s size. Immediate veterinary attention is critical to manage these symptoms and prevent more serious complications.

Which types of chocolate are most dangerous for dogs?

Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are the most dangerous types of chocolate for dogs due to their high concentrations of theobromine. Dark chocolate contains up to 450 mg of theobromine per ounce, making it particularly toxic, while unsweetened baking chocolate has even higher levels. While less potent, milk chocolate can still be harmful in larger quantities. White chocolate has the lowest theobromine content but is still unsafe for dogs. The higher the cocoa content, the more dangerous the chocolate is to a dog’s health.

Why are cats less likely to eat chocolate compared to dogs?

Cats are less likely to eat chocolate than dogs due to their more discerning eating habits and lack of a sweet taste receptor. Unlike dogs, cats are not attracted to sweet flavors, making them less interested in foods like chocolate that humans find appealing. Additionally, cats tend to be more cautious about eating, reducing their chances of ingesting chocolate. However, keeping chocolate out of reach is still important, as it is toxic to cats if consumed.

How should pet owners respond if they suspect their dog has ingested chocolate?

If pet owners suspect their dog has ingested chocolate, they should act quickly and calmly. The first step is to assess how much and what type of chocolate was consumed. Immediately contact a veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital to get professional advice. Be ready to provide details about the dog’s size, amount, and type of chocolate ingested. Depending on the situation, the vet may recommend monitoring for symptoms, inducing vomiting, or bringing the dog in for treatment. Prompt action is crucial to minimize the risk of chocolate toxicity.

Do you have questions about chocolate toxicity in pets? Call your local vet in Bloomington, CA, today!

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