Sure, everybody knows that dogs shouldn’t eat candy, and especially not chocolate, but do you know which kind of chocolate is most dangerous and why?
Why all the fuss about chocolate?
First it’s important to understand why chocolate is bad for dogs: this article goes into detail about the biochemistry. Turns out that chocolate contains a compound called theobromine that’s metabolized into a chemical called xanthine in your dog’s liver—and that is bad news for your pup.
Xanthine interferes with phosphodiesterase inhibitors, which leads to an increased heart rate and increased central nervous system activity, both of which can be lethal for dogs. Caffeine is another methylxanthine (AKA: bad ingredient) found in chocolate that dogs can’t break down like humans can.
What happens when your dog eats chocolate?
When your dog eats chocolate, their body will usually try to purge the toxic buildup by vomiting, urination, and diarrhea. They may also have a variety of scary symptoms like:
- increased body temperature
- rapid breathing
- muscle ridigity
Make sure that you always rush your dog to the vet if they are experiencing these kind of symptoms and you suspect or know that they’ve consumed chocolate.
The Pet Poison Helpline is another great resource; call 1-855-213-6680 if you have concerns about your dog having eaten chocolate.
Why some chocolates are worse than others
Certain types of chocolate are worse for your dog than others, mostly because they contain different amounts of methylxanthines (the bad stuff).
Generally, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the worse it is for your dog. So Baker’s chocolate is especially deadly for canines, whereas it would take much more milk chocolate to make a dog dangerously ill.
Semi-sweet chocolate also contains a high level of methylxanthine (around 260 mg per ounce), while most chocolate candies have between 40 and 60 mg of theobromine per ounce. White chocolate has super low levels, as do treats like chocolate-flavored frosting, which also includes ingredients like sugar, butter, etc.
Dr. Gary Richter, member of Rover’s Dog People Panel and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, explains that dog owners should be careful no matter the chocolate type. He says, “there is very little actual chocolate [in milk chocolate], but a small dog and a large quantity can be an issue. Also, the sugar and fat can lead to GI upset.”
Why size does matter (when it comes to chocolate)
When it comes your pooch consuming enough methylxanthines to cross over into dangerous territory, their size plays a huge role.
For example, a small amount of milk chocolate won’t have much effect on a large dog like a Great Dane or Saint Bernard, whereas a dark chocolate bar could seriously harm a little pug or Chihuahua. This handy tool from Pet MD helps answer any questions about your dog’s weight vs. the level of chocolate toxicity.
Since so many different factors are involved – how much chocolate was ingested, what kind of chocolate was ingested, how large your dogs is – it’s always a good idea to call your vet when you’re worried about your pet and chocolate. You don’t want to take any chances.
We know how fun this time of year is, with delicious treats galore – but since many pups are inclined to eat anything they can get their paws on, they need you to have their back and remove any temptations.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.