Is Chocolate Really Toxic for Dogs?

This blog is re-published from my Blogger post under the At Home Animal Hospital page by Coe Huston

FAQ – Dogs and Chocolate

Is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?

Yes, chocolate is potentially toxic for dogs and cats. It contains both caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, which can both be dangerous to your pets. Humans tolerate these chemicals better than dogs, which is why we can eat chocolate without getting sick. The amount of theobromine in the chocolate your dog ate is the best indicator of hoe much danger they will be in.

How Much Chocolate Does it Take to Be Dangerous for My Dog?

Chocolate comes in a variety of concentrations. The more dark and bitter it is, the more theobromine it contains per ounce:

  • Baking chocolate: Up to 450mg/oz.
  • Dark chocolate: 130-450mg/oz.
  • Milk chocolate: 44-58mg/oz.
  • White chocolate: 0.25mg/oz.

Because the toxic level of exposure is dose-dependent, a big dog that eats a few ounces of milk chocolate will probably not have any symptoms, while a small dog that eats baking chocolate may be in big trouble. If you are ever concerned about your dog’s level of exposure, call a At Home Animal Hospital.
Dogs that eat chocolate may find themselves with mild symptoms at a dose of about 20mg/kg, or about 9.1mg/lb. Doses twice this high are very likely to induce symptoms and can cause cardiac problems. The fatal dose is around 200mg/kg, or 90.1mg/lb. Fatalities are rare, but can also occur at lower doses in dogs that experience complications.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Most dogs with a mild to moderate exposure will have gastrointestinal symptoms and other symptoms that appear like a caffeine overdose:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Racing heart rate
  • Severe exposure may cause all of these as well as additional symptoms:
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Heart failure

Chocolate poisoning can take a few hours to develop and last for several days.  If you suspect your dog got into your secret stash of Easter candy, give us a call at 808-873-0102.  We’ll help you determine what the best course of action is for your specific circumstances.  If your in doubt or think you may have an emergent situation, we’ll fit you in at no extra charge during our regular business hours.

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