Is chocolate safe for dogs?
Your dog loves treats – it’s what they do. But what about chocolate? There’s plenty of debate on this topic, but no clear consensus. Well, why is chocolate bad for dogs? And can dogs eat chocolate? We’re here to find out.
It’s all about the theobromine
Whilst chocolate is relatively harmless to humans in moderate consumption, that is not the case with dogs. The toxic part of chocolate is theobromine, and whilst we humans are able to quickly metabolise that chemical, dogs take much longer.
Because of that, dogs can build up potentially dangerous levels of theobromine in their system, leading to various discomforts, ranging from the relatively minor upset stomach to potential heart attacks. Whilst we don’t want to scare you, it’s best that you remain in the know to ensure that your companion stays healthy.
The side effects of consuming chocolate can depend on the size of your dog
Larger dogs could potentially cope with more chocolate than a smaller dog, active dogs are more at risk than more lethargic ones; there could possibly be breed differences. But why take the risk? Chocolate is not good for your dog and it could be fatal so don’t give it to your dog at all.
With just a couple of pieces of chocolate, a small dog could end up with a poorly stomach, and although they might seem to be enjoying a chunk of your snack, there’s a very fine line between a healthy poodle, and a poodle with theobromine poisoning.
So what if your dog has managed to get hold of some chocolate? What are the symptoms of theobromine poisoning?
- Symptoms of low-level toxicity could be an upset stomach, followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. This is the best case scenario and is essentially the body ridding itself of any chocolate.
- Following this, if your dog has eaten a dangerous amount of chocolate, they could experience tremors, seizures and an irregular heartbeat.
- In the worst case (and we don’t want to scare you) your companion could experience internal bleeding and a heart attack.
- Exercise will exacerbate the dangers of theobromine poisoning so it’s important to keep your dog calm and avoid excessive movement.
Obviously the above is all very serious sounding, and we don’t want to scare you, but the dangers of your dog eating chocolate are all very real.
Which chocolate is safer than others?
If your dog has accidentally consumed some chocolate, you should definitely consult your vet. They are likely to ask you what kind of chocolate it was, and here’s why – the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. So, if they ate milk, or white chocolate, hopefully the consequences will be less harmful. When it comes down to it, an ounce of dark chocolate (or less) could be enough to poison a 20 kilo dog.
So, ultimately, the answer to – “can dogs eat chocolate?” is no. Realistically, there is just too much risk. The great thing is there are plenty of alternatives on the market which your canine companion will love just as much, so why not give doggy chocolate a go? These don’t contain theobromine because they are made from alternatives to cocoa beans (e.g. carob beans).