Chocolate is one of my favorite things, and it is absolutely fascinating. It has many chemicals that comprise it, and many purposes. This series will contain some great facts on chocolate including baking aspects, health benefits, and more. Volume 1: Why is chocolate bad for dogs?
I think we can all agree on the fact that chocolate is bad for dogs. When I was a little girl, I can remember my dad always reiterating not to give our dogs any chocolate! It wasn’t until I was studying chocolate for my research project in college, that I understood why chocolate is really bad for dogs and how serious the repercussions of your dog ingesting it can be.
Although there are dozens of chemicals in chocolate, there are two main ones to focus on: caffeine and theobromine. The culprit for dogs is theobromine which is a methylxanthine. These words may be unknown and strange to hear, but basically dogs cannot break down methylxanthines, whereas, humans can break it down and excrete it efficiently.
This is the biggest reasons dogs can have a negative reaction to ingesting chocolate! I experienced this once in middle school with our border collies. My brother was eating a tootsie roll pop one day and he didn’t quite finish the chocolate part inside, and he dropped it on the ground. Our little 40 lb border collie ran over and start chewing on it, which we didn’t notice. Shortly after, she had a little seizure and was sick for a few hours. Of course, we called the vet and took her in immediately. She was okay, but it made me realize how dangerous chocolate is for our pets. That is why I am so paranoid about my English Bulldog (above) being around ANY type of chocolate!
Here are some easy tips to help you out if your dog has ingested chocolate or for future reference.
There are two key factors in how chocolate effects your dog:
1. Type of chocolate
2. Weight of your dog
Here is a quick reference in order from HIGHEST (most dangerous) amount of theobromine to LEAST amount:
- Dry cocoa powder (most raw form, most potent)
- Baker’s chocolate
- Semi sweet & dark chocolate (like in chocolate chip cookies above)
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate (which basically has no theobromine)
The smaller your dog, the more likely they will be effected by chocolate. So, if you have a 10 lb dog that ingests some chocolate, they will be more susceptible to toxicity.
For a quick reference on dog weight, check out this great link: Chocolate Toxicity Table
As always, consult with your vet if your dog accidentally eats some chocolate…better safe than sorry!
**I am not a veterinary expert, but I am a chemical expert. I also own dogs so this is my personal and chemistry background. Always check with a vet if your dog has symptoms or if they may be in danger of toxicity.