Did your dog eat some chocolate and you’re not sure if it’s safe? Chocolate is a common treat for people, but it’s not necessarily safe for dogs. Here’s what you need to know about the nutritional composition of chocolate and the pros and cons of feeding it to your dog.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which contain a compound called theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant that is similar to caffeine. It can be toxic to dogs in large amounts. The amount of theobromine that is poisonous to dogs depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate. For example, Baker’s chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate.
What is chocolate?
Chocolate is a snack derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao. These seeds are ground into a paste, which is then mixed with other ingredients like sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla to create the chocolate that we know and love.
The main ingredient in chocolate that is of concern for dogs is cocoa. Cocoa powder is made by grinding up the cocoa beans even further until they become a fine powder. This powder is used to make dark chocolate and can be very bitter. Cocoa beans also contain a substance called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine.
The amount of cocoa in chocolate varies depending on the type. For example, milk chocolate contains about 10% cocoa, while semi-sweet chocolate has around 35% cocoa. Baker’s chocolate, on the other hand, is almost 100% cocoa.
can a dog eat chocolate?
No, chocolate is not safe for dogs to eat. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. Theobromine is a stimulant that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in dogs.
While all chocolate contains theobromine, darker chocolate has a higher concentration of the substance. This means that dark chocolate is more dangerous to dogs than milk chocolate. If your dog has eaten any kind of chocolate, it is important to watch for signs of illness and call your veterinarian right away.
Theobromine isn’t the only potentially dangerous substance in chocolate. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can be fatal to dogs in large amounts. Chocolate also contains fat and sugar, which can lead to obesity and other health problems in dogs.
So, can dogs eat chocolate? No, chocolate is not safe for dogs to eat. If your dog has eaten chocolate, watch for signs of illness and call your veterinarian right away.
Absorption of Chocolate: Humans vs Dogs
Humans can easily digest and absorb chocolate because we have the enzyme, thiaminase in our gut. This enzyme breaks down thiamine, which is an essential nutrient for us. However, dogs do not have this enzyme in their gut. This means that they cannot break down thiamine and absorb it from chocolate.
The half-life of theobromine in humans is 2 to 3 hours.
Not only can dogs not absorb thiamine from chocolate, but theobromine is also absorbed more slowly in dogs than it is in humans. This means that the toxic effects of theobromine can build up over time and be even more dangerous to dogs.
The half-life of theobromine in dogs is about 18 hours.
Symptoms of Toxicity of Chocolate when dogs eat them:
If a dog eats too much chocolate, they may start to show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, urination, hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures. If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away. They will be able to tell you how much chocolate is toxic to your dog and what symptoms to look for.
Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs:
If a dog has eaten too much chocolate, the first thing that needs to be done is to make sure they are no longer consuming any more chocolate. If the dog is vomiting, it is important to make sure they are not dehydrated. The next step is to contact your veterinarian. They will likely want to bring your dog in for an examination and may give them some IV fluids to help flush the chocolate out of their system. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
Chocolate Toxicity Calculator:
merckvetmanual.com has a chocolate toxicity calculator that you can use to determine what you need to do when your dog ingests chocolate bars. I entered details of my dog, 30 pounds, and hypothetical 5 bars of chocolate weighing 141.7 grams.
The calculator returned an advisory recommending emergency treatment for the dog as the dog has a total of 23.51 mg Methylxanthines composed of 21.31 mg of Theobromine and 2.20 mg of Caffeine.
Below is a snapshot of the results and recommendations which you can also find using this calculator.
Methylxanthine Content of Various Types of Chocolate
Methylxanthine is the term used to describe both caffeine and theobromine present in chocolate. The table below shows the levels of methylxanthines in various types of chocolate.
As you can see, darker chocolate has higher levels of methylxanthines than milk chocolate.
|Chocolate type||Methylxanthine Concentration|
|Cocoa powder||~800 mg/oz (28.5 mg/g)|
|Unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate||~450 mg/oz (16 mg/g)|
|Semisweet and sweet dark chocolate||~150–160 mg/oz (5.4–5.7 mg/g)|
|Milk chocolate||~64 mg/oz (2.3 mg/g)|
|Cocoa bean hullsb||~255 mg/oz (9.1 mg/g)|
Cocoa powder is used to make chocolate and chocolate-flavored products. Methylxanthines are present in all types of cocoa-containing products, including baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened cocoa powder. The amount of methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) varies depending on the type of cocoa bean used, the manufacturing process, and other factors.
Baker’s chocolate has the highest concentration of methylxanthines, while white chocolate has the lowest.
Is chocolate harmful to dogs?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Chocolate can be harmful to dogs if they eat enough more than a certain amount. The amount of chocolate that is toxic to a dog depends on the type of chocolate, the size of the dog, and the amount of chocolate consumed.
For example, a small dog can get sick from eating just one ounce of Baker’s chocolate, while a large dog may be able to eat several ounces without any problems. Theobromine is metabolized by dogs differently than it is by humans, so it takes longer for them to process it and get rid of it from their system.
How much Chocolate will kill my dog?
According to a 2005 Study on Chocolate toxicity in dogs, 100 to 500 milligrams per kg of a dog’s body weight is the lethal amount of chocolate that will kill your dog. For example, a 10-pound (4.5 kg) dog can be killed by as little as 45 grams (1.6 oz) of baker’s chocolate, while a 60-pound (27 kg) dog may be able to eat up to 270 grams (9.5 oz) without any problems.
My dog ate chocolate but is acting fine
If your dog is acting fine after eating chocolate, it does not necessarily mean that they are not at risk for developing health problems. It is important to keep an eye on your dog and contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes in their behavior or if they start to show any signs of illness.
According to AKC, it can take 6 to 12 hours for chocolate toxicity in your dog to start showing.
Enter your dogs details on the two calculators I recommend below;
What to do if your dog eats chocolate home remedies
While the most straightfoward remedy for a dog that has eaten chocolate is IV fluid treatment, you can also try the following home remedies;
- Induce vomiting using hydogen peroxide:-2 tablespoons for small dogs, 2-4 tablespoons for medium dogs, 1/4 cup for large dogs.
- Give your dog a teaspoon of activated charcoal: For every 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight, give 1 teaspoon of powder or 1 tablet of activated charcoal.
- Give your dog plenty of water to drink.
When to contact a vet
If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, it is always best to contact your veterinarian or local emergency animal hospital immediately. The severity of the toxicity will depend on the type and amount of chocolate consumed, as well as the size of the dog.
If your dog has eaten chocolate, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian. They will be able to tell you how much chocolate is toxic to your dog and what symptoms to look for. If the dog is vomiting, it is important to make sure they are not dehydrated. The next step is to contact your veterinarian. They will likely want to bring your dog in for an examination and may give them some IV fluids to help flush the chocolate out of their system. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
You can also use a chocolate toxicity calculator to determine what you need to do when your dog ingests chocolate bars.
Q: What should I do if my dog ate chocolate?
A: If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, use the toxicity calendar to determine whether you should visit the vet or wait it out. You’ll need to estimate the amount your dog ate and his/her weight and the calculator will give you recommendations of what to do. If it recommends you take your dog to the vet, do so immediately. You can also contact Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
- Finlay, Fiona, and Simon Guiton. “Chocolate poisoning.” BMJ : British Medical Journal vol. 331,7517 (2005): 633.PDF
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com