Whoever invented chocolate is a God. I mean chocolate is life, right? Imagine the world of goodies and sweets without its secret ingredient: chocolate. What would we do without it? Apart from the sheer pleasure of eating it and the many combinations it can be part of, chocolate is also full of nutrients that have a positive impact on our health. Dark chocolate is also a powerful source of antioxidants, can improve blood flow, and even reduce heart disease risk. But all of these benefits are to us, humans. For dogs, chocolate is not that good. Actually, it’s not good at all.
Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?
Dogs can’t eat chocolate because it’s poisonous to them. It contains a toxin called theobromine which they can’t metabolize as fast as us humans can. That toxin will build up in a dog’s body faster and much higher than in humans and it could prove lethal to our pawesome friends.
However, if your dog accidentally eats a little bit of chocolate you shouldn’t freak out immediately. Small amounts of dark chocolate would only give your dog stomach ache, diarrhoea and could also provoke vomiting. The amount of chocolate a dog can eat before feeling these symptoms also depend on the size of the dog. Larger dog breeds won’t feel the same effects a small dog feels after ingesting the same amount of chocolate.
What do you do if your dog has eaten too much chocolate?
If you suspect your dog has eaten a consistent quantity of chocolate, like, half a bar or even more, then you should rush him to the vet in the following 2 or 3 hours from ingestion. The vet will most probably induce vomiting to get the theobromine out of the dog’s system.
I know, dogs also like sweets. Some of them adore them. They’re just like us, humans, in this aspect. Nevertheless, you should always resist their puppy eyes and make sure you don’t expose them to unnecessary danger just because they’ve asked for it.
Not all chocolate has the same theobromine levels
The level of theobromine depends on the type of chocolate we’re discussing. The sweetest types of chocolate also contain a lot of other ingredients, like milk or nuts which dilute down the quantity of theobromine. This toxin is found in cocoa, the main source of chocolate, so the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous for the dog.
Usually, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the most amount of theobromine and they’re the one you should pay more attention to and not let them in places where your dog can sniff them out. It takes a very small amount of dark chocolate to poison your dog. In numbers, an ounce of dark chocolate might contain enough theobromine to poison a 44-pound dog.
For milk chocolate, things are a little bit different. Around 70g of milk chocolate could cause problems. Theobromine is toxic if it passes the threshold of 20mg per kilogram of body weight. So, for a 5Kg dog, then 100mg of theobromine is an issue.
Cocoa powder is much more dangerous. 4g of cocoa powder contains 100mg of theobromine so make sure he doesn’t lick it out from mistake.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in your dog
At first, he will be very hyperactive, all of a sudden, after about two-four hours after eating the chocolate. Theobromine causes high heart rates and blood pressure levels which lead to abnormal energy bursts.
At toxic levels, dogs can also start shaking (muscle tremors), and his body temperature will rise up. He will probably look for colder places to settle and start panting violently to try to lower his body temperature. The one way to protect against theobromine poisoning is vomiting. If your dog presents all these symptoms and also starts vomiting, then there are good chances he’ll manage out alive of this.
However, we repeat it, if you suspect he has eaten a large dose of chocolate, you should rush him to the vet immediately, without waiting for these specific symptoms to kick in.
What does theobromine do to a dog’s body?
This chocolate toxin increases the production of cAMP, a cell’s chemical messenger, and adrenalin. These will lead to a calcium flow disfunction and muscle contractions.
When these biochemical changes have gotten to the central nervous system and they start stimulating the heart muscle, the other muscles in the body tend to relax which then leads to increased urination and respiratory problems.
In critical cases of chocolate poisoning, your dog might also present muscle rigidity, show signs of uncoordinated movement, suffer a seizure and even get into a coma. The fatal causes of death in cases of theobromine poisoning, he will die of heart or respiratory system failure.
To sum up…
Chocolate could prove a serious enemy to your dog, and it all comes down to the Theobromine molecule which does resemble caffeine. What it does to your dog’s body is somewhat similar to what caffeine does to ours, only that dogs feel it a lot more violently.
Smaller doses of theobromine might not be fatal but could cause seizures, diarrhoea or vomiting. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate and your dog’s appetite for sweet things will also make your task of hiding the chocolate more difficult. Cats are also at risks when it comes to chocolate and given the fact that they’re smaller in size than dogs, can get even worse on smaller doses of theobromine. However, cats have a hidden “weapon” against chocolate. They can’t feel its taste.
Basically, cats lack the ability to taste sweetness, so they won’t be as tempted as dogs to take a bite. They might, in the very least, be curious and we all know what curiosity did to the cat.
To conclude, dogs can’t eat chocolate because it can prove poisonous to them in the right quantity, and these quantities are rather smaller compared to our evaluation. So, keep the chocolate away from your dog, and cat and they shall be ok.