How Toxic Is Chocolate To Dogs?
by Gary Le Mon

You probably already know that dog’s shouldn’t eat chocolate. But if your dog sneaks a few pieces of chocolate out of your Halloween bag, can it kill him? How much chocolate does it take to cause health problems, and how serious is chocolate toxicity in dogs?

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs: Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Most people think dogs are sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate, but chocolate isn’t particularly high in caffeine, especially if you compare it to the levels found in coffee and tea. The compound in chocolate that’s more toxic to dogs is theobromine. Both compounds are in the same chemical class, and they both affect the central nervous system - but theobromines are far more toxic to dogs than caffeine.

Chocolate and Dogs: How Much Does It Take to Kill a Dog?

Obviously, chocolate is bad for dogs since it stimulates the nervous system. Even more concerning is the fact that chocolate really can kill a dog. It usually takes at least 40 ounces of milk chocolate to kill an average fifty pound dog, but a smaller dog could develop symptoms of chocolate toxicity after eating only 10 ounces. So, it’s unlikely a dog will die from eating a few small pieces of chocolate unless he’s very small in size. On the other hand, some dogs may be more sensitive to the effects of theobromine than others.

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs: Is All Chocolate Bad?

The most dangerous chocolate for dogs is Baker’s chocolate since it contains the highest concentration of theobromine. Dark chocolate only contains a quarter of the theobromines found in Baker’s chocolate, and milk chocolate contains about a third of the amount in dark chocolate. White chocolate, which really isn’t chocolate, contains almost no theobromine - or caffeine. European chocolates usually contain more cocoa and less milk, so they have relatively high levels of theobromines. But don’t guess when it comes to chocolate – keep it all away from the curious mouths of dogs.

Chocolate and Dogs: The Bottom Line?

Dogs enjoy the taste of chocolate, so it’s important to keep it out of their reach. If your dog does eat chocolate or shows any signs of chocolate toxicity, call your veterinarian immediately.

References:

Vetinfo.com. “Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs”. Merck Veterinary Manual. “Chocolate Poisoning”

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