Can dogs eat chocolate?
Many dogs have a sweet tooth and love the delicious taste of chocolate but it is poisonous for them and could make them very unwell and, if eaten in large enough quantity, could prove fatal.
Why is chocolate so dangerous?
Chocolate contains a toxic ingredient called theobromine (a bit like caffeine). Dogs are unable to break this down, or metabolise, theobromine and it can do serious harm.
Dark chocolate is particularly dangerous as it usually has the higher levels of theobromine but it’s also found in milk chocolate.
Theobromine mainly affects a dog’s guts, heart, central nervous system and kidneys.
If you have any doubts that your dog has ingested chocolate consult your vet immediately – don’t wait.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?
The signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning will vary depending on the size, age and breed of your dog and the amount they have eaten.
The symptoms include:
⦁ vomiting (which may include blood),
⦁ rapid breathing,
⦁ poor coordination,
⦁ increased heart rate and
When Maisie was just a puppy we feared that she had eaten some chocolate. We raced her to the vets and they plied her with medication. The vet told us he would soon know whether she had eaten the stuff and as the meds kicked in they made her sick and poo for England.
It turned out she hadn’t actually eaten any chocolate.
We paid the vets bill (not covered on our insurance) and took her home. She was glum and very sorry for herself and we all felt terribly guilty but extremely lucky as it could have been much worse. We now make sure ALL chocolate and other poisons are kept well out of reach.
What should you do if you know or suspect your dog has eaten chocolate?
Seek advice from your vets immediately. It may be hard to tell exactly how much chocolate your dog has eaten and therefore how much theobromine they have taken in, cocoa bean sources vary and so does the amount of toxins within them. It will be helpful if you can tell them what kind of chocolate they may have eaten and how much. (Hang on to the wrapper and take it with you to the vets). It is also advisable to have a note of your dog’s weight. There are toxicity calculators available on the web to help you find out if your dog has eaten a harmful dose, but our advice is to err on the side of caution and contact your vet.
According to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service it is rare for a fatality to occur, but it can make them extremely ill and cause long term damage if not treated.
Can dogs ever have chocolate?
The answer is no so take care to keep chocolate eggs, biscuits and even some chocolate cereals away from your pet. Chocolate cake is particularly bad as it may contain coco powder which is high in theobromine. Drinking chocolate tends to have lower levels of theobromine to milk chocolate and is less of a risk but dry cocoa powder is highly toxic to dogs.
It’s unlikely your dog will suffer poisoning from eating white chocolate, but it is high in fat, buttermilk and sugar so may cause a stomach upset and isn’t a healthy treat.
Chocolate substitutes for dogs
There are substitutes available at pet shops so ask for the retailer’s advice on what the best substitutes are.