If you have a dog with a sweet tooth, you probably know how hard it is to keep the chocolate away from it.
You may be wondering whether you can safely reward your pup with a little bit of black, milk, or white chocolate and how much chocolate can actually harm or kill your dog.
As a dog parent, you should know that all products containing chocolate and cacao-based ingredients are potentially dangerous for dogs.
The main reason is the theobromine contained in it. This compound cannot be metabolized by the dog’s body and can reach toxic levels in the bloodstream if the dog eats enough chocolate.
Read on to find out more about how much chocolate can be fatal for dogs, what to do if your pup eats chocolate, and how to prevent chocolate poisoning of your pet.
How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog?
The amount which can be deadly for dogs depends on several factors. The first is the weight of your dog. The second is the type of chocolate it eats, and the third is the amount consumed.
Studies show that only 0.3 oz. of concentrated chocolate per every pound of body weight is enough to kill a pup.
The milder chocolates are safer as they contain less theobromine.
The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. The most dangerous option for canines is cooking unsweetened chocolate and similar products with a high cacao concentration.
Plus, the smaller your dog, the bigger the risk of chocolate causing severe and even fatal toxicity even from small bites of chocolate frosted donuts or fudge.
Why Is Chocolate So Dangerous For Canines?
As mentioned earlier, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. Both of them cannot be properly metabolized by dogs and can cause a build-up and toxicity.
For some dogs, eating only 0.3 ounces of dark or other highly concentrated chocolate can be fatal. For others, the dangerous quantity is much bigger.
Toy and small dog breeds are at the highest risk of fatal chocolate poisoning because of their small weight and the speed at which the theobromine will begin attacking their nervous systems and speed up their heart rates.
What Types Of Chocolate Can Be Fatal For Canines?
The darker it is and the more cocoa solids contained in the chocolate, the higher its theobromine level.
White chocolate is the safest option, and it will take about 2 ounces per pound to kill a dog.
Milk chocolate has a higher theobromine concentration, so one bar can potentially kill a 10-pound pup.
Dark chocolate is very high in theobromine content, and thus only an ounce can be enough to be deadly for some dogs.
Baking chocolate is even more dangerous for canines and has almost as much theobromine as cacao powder does.
Cacao powder is the most dangerous of all chocolate products for pups, and even as little as 1/3 pound of it can be fatal for a 20-pound dog.
Of course, the severity of chocolate toxicity also depends on the size and weight of your dog and on the quantities eaten.
Here are some approximate values of theobromine content in chocolate and the amount per pound of the bodyweight of the dog which can be fatal for it:
- White chocolate – from 0.01mg, 1-2 ounces per pound of the body weight
- Milk chocolate – from 2.4mg, to 1 ounce per pound
- Dark chocolate – from 5.5mg theobromine content, less than an ounce per pound of the body weight can cause death
- Baking or cooking chocolate – from 16mg, to one ounce per pound can be deadly
- Sweet cacao – from 60mg, to 0.3 ounces per pound can kill a pup
Symptoms Of Chocolate Toxicity In Dogs
The signs to look for that your dog may be affected by chocolate poisoning can appear from 1 to 12 hours after the pup has eaten the chocolate or has drank the chocolate milk.
Here are the most common symptoms to monitor the dog for:
- Rapid panting
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Muscle tremors and twitching
- Racing or abnormal heart rate
- Increased blood pressure or body temperature
- Hyperactivity and restlessness
Older dogs, especially those with heart problems, are at the highest risk of collapsing as a result of eating chocolate.
The good news is that the mortality rate is less than 3% if the appropriate actions are taken as soon as possible to alleviate the symptoms.
What Actions Should You Take If Your Dog Ate Chocolate?
Call your emergency vet or the pet poison control hotline as soon as possible to explain the situation and get timely advice. Be prepared to inform them of the type and quantity of chocolate consumed, the weight and age of your dog, and any health conditions it has.
You will receive advice and can be asked to rush the dog to the nearest clinic or to monitor it and perform some home-based treatments to alleviate any symptoms of chocolate toxicity.
How To Prevent Chocolate Poisoning In Your Dog?
The best way to ensure that your pup is safe from the potentially dangerous and fatal chocolate toxicity is to abstain from giving it any kind of treats or products which contain chocolate, cacao, or cocoa.
Also, make sure to stash away your chocolate bars, sweets, chocolate cakes, the Kit Kats, or the Hershey Kisses, and other similar sweets safely away from the reach of your pup.
Be especially careful during the holidays, especially during Easter and Christmas, when you are most likely to have chocolate and sweet baskets and other similar treats lying around your home.
Statistics show that chocolate poisoning in dogs increases by over 230% during the Easter period in the USA each year.
It would be best if you also tried to train your pup to obey commands such as “leave it” in order to prevent it from eating chocolate.
By maintaining a regular regimen for your dog and feeding it balanced and healthy meals and treats, you will reduce its urge to try to steal and eat chocolate or other forbidden human foods.
What Are Some Safe Alternative Treats For Dogs?
While some human foods such as chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, xylitol, and many others can be toxic and deadly for canines, other human foods can be healthy and safe when given in moderation.
Some of the best natural alternatives to chocolate for pups include apples, carrots, green beans, peas, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
All types of chocolate can cause harmful effects on dogs. Unfortunately, in some cases, certain types and amounts of chocolate can be fatal for some dogs.
If your dog has eaten a worrying amount of chocolate, make sure to contact your veterinarian or the emergency pet poison control hotline ASAP!
If you are not sure whether your dog is in danger, talk to the toxicologists and vets, who will determine the risk and the best treatment for your pup depending on the quantity eaten, the type of chocolate consumed, and the dog’s weight and health. There is even a calculator for checking the toxic amount of chocolate for dogs.
Make sure that you keep any chocolate or chocolate-containing product away from your dog at all times.
Refrain from feeding your pup with even the smallest amounts of chocolate, and choose some healthier and safer alternative treats instead.