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Dangers of Chocolate to Dogs

April 15, 2022 2 min read

Dangers of Chocolate to Dogs

Sometimes we just can't resist those eyes staring up at us when we're eating and we tell ourselves it's okay to give them table food once in a while - it won't hurt, right?

But there’s one snack you have to hold back:  Chocolate

Sweet but deadly

Chocolate is poisonous because it contains theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine. Theobromine, the major toxin in chocolate, is similar to caffeine in that it can raise a dog's heart rate and stimulate his nervous system. Canines cannot process theobromine and caffeine as well as humans do. As a result, dogs are more vulnerable to toxic effects.

What if your dog ate a piece of chocolate?

When it comes to chocolate, keep this in mind: dark chocolate is deadly!  The less sweet and darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it is to your pet.

If your dog does get to consume chocolate, a tiny amount is unlikely to be harmful or fatal but it still depends on the following factors:

  • chocolate variety
  • how much they've consumed
  • the size of your dog

As a result, even a small amount of chocolate could be fatal to your dog. White chocolate and milk chocolate, on the other hand, have less theobromine and hence may be less harmful. Regardless, feeding them to your dog is never a good idea. Even a small amount can make them ill.

Signs of Poisoning

Poisoning symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to convulsions and abrupt death, depending on the size of the dog and how much chocolate it consumes.

If your dog has consumed even a small bit of chocolate, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Hyperactivity that is out of character
  • A bloated stomach
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Drinking more than usual

If your dog has consumed a large amount, he will have more severe symptoms. These are some of them:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Tremors, twitching or seizures
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Feels warm

Treatment

Decontamination includes inducing vomiting and infusing activated charcoal to stop theobromine absorption into the body. 

Though your dog will usually vomit on its own. If not, call your veterinarian immediately.

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