Everyone knows chocolate is bad for dogs, but very few people know why chocolate is bad for them. People are taught from a young age not to give chocolate to the family dog, but that’s usually the end of the conversation. Why is chocolate bad for dogs is a question you may ponder as your dog begs for a piece from you, but you should resist.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
Chocolate is bad for dogs because it contains theobromine and caffeine, both naturally occurring chemical substances found in cocoa. It’s safe to say you shouldn’t give caffeine to dogs as they have different metabolism and size compared to humans. Caffeine can cause heart issues, high blood pressure, loss of muscle control, and tremors.
What is Theobromine?
Theobromine is a natural chemical substance found in cocoa, which is made into chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, the higher the percentage of dark chocolate, the more theobromine it has. 8 ounces of milk chocolate (10-30% cocoa on average) can make a 50-pound dog sick, but only a single ounce of unsweetened baker’s chocolate (100 % cocoa) is needed for the same effect.
How does Theobromine Affect Dogs?
Theobromine affects dogs because they metabolize it much slower than humans, allowing them to be poisoned by much less of it than it would take for a human. A human would have to eat over 30 pounds of dark chocolate in one sitting in order to receive a fatal dose, while only around 10 ounces of dark chocolate can kill a 20-pound dog. Because theobromine is metabolized slower, it affects a dog’s central nervous system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system, all of which work very hard to keep your dog alive.
Signs and Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning
A chocolate chip or two or a square of chocolate isn’t going to be harmful to your dog, but you should avoid giving any chocolate to a small dog, as it takes a much lower dosage of theobromine to poison them. However, we can’t always control what dogs get, as they can be sneaky and determined, and you may enter a room to find your dog has eaten your stash of s’mores goodies, including a few bars of chocolate. If you come across a situation like this, start watching for signs and symptoms from your dog that they’re sick.
The First Signs:
-Vomiting (with or without blood)
Aside from nausea, you will probably notice if your dog starts vomiting, has diarrhea, or can’t stop drinking water. A secondary symptom within the vomiting is if there is blood present, as this means their stomach and intestines are being affected. These are the first symptoms of theobromine poisoning you may notice.
Further Signs and Symptoms:
-Fever or high temperature
-High heart rate
-Low blood pressure
-Stiff or rigid muscles
You can check most of these signs and symptoms from your own home, but if you notice any of these after your dog has ingested a moderate amount of chocolate, you should seek medical attention for them.
Extreme Signs and Symptoms:
If you notice any of these in your dog, you should call poison control for animals and take them to the vet immediately, as they have a strong case of theobromine poisoning that may be fatal.
What to do if Your Dog Ate Chocolate?
If you find yourself walking in on your dog eating chocolate or discover they’ve already eaten chocolate, and if you know the amount and brand, you should call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680 and they will help guide you on what to do. Depending on what type of chocolate your dog has eaten and how much, your dog may be just fine and suffer no ill effects, or your dog may immediately need a visit to your veterinarian for medical attention. Remember, taking your dog to the vet before they show symptoms is safer than after symptoms appear.
The reason why is chocolate bad for dogs is something few people actually know, but it’s attributed mainly to theobromine, a chemical which can cause system failures within your dog. Keep chocolate away from your dogs for their own safety.