Dogs and Chocolate

Chocolate in large amounts can be dangerous to dogs

Everybody loves chocolate including your dog. But if you want to reward Fido with some chocolate cake or pieces of your Hershey’s bar, think again. While this sweetest of treats may be harmless to humans, it’s toxic to canines.

The problem with chocolate is that it contains a stimulant similar to caffeine called theobromine. In high enough doses, this substance can cause sickness and death.  A dog’s weight plays a significant role in theobromine toxicity levels.  A good rule of thumb to remember is 100 mg per kilogram or 45 mg per pound of canine body weight.

The kind of chocolate also determines how dangerous chocolate-based foods are. Here is a list of the most common kinds of chocolate, the amount of theobromine president per ounce of chocolate and their approximate toxicity levels in dogs:

  • milk chocolate(45 mg/oz) – toxicity at one ounce eaten per pound body weight
  • semisweet chocolate (150 to 260 mg/oz) – toxicity at one ounce eaten per three to six pounds body weight
  • Baker’s chocolate (450 mg/oz) – toxicity at one ounce eaten her 10 pounds body weight
  • cocoa beans (450 mg-1500 mg/oz) – toxicity at one ounce eaten per 10 to 33 pounds body weight

In low doses, chocolate will cause digestive upset including diarrhea and/or vomiting. These effects may not appear until the day after Fido has had his toxic treat. As more dangerous levels of theobromine poisoning are reached, your dog may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  •  irritability
  • restlessness
  • increased need for urination
  • increased heart rate
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • death

A dog that eats chocolate may need to be hospitalized. Times in the hospital will vary depending on how much he or she ate and what the symptoms are. In general, theobromine has a half-life of 7 1/2 hours, which means that it will take at least a few days for all of the chemical to leave a canine’s body.

If you suspect that your animal pal has gotten into your chocolate stash, call Austin Pet and Bird Clinic immediately.  Our veterinarians accept emergency cases and will do everything possible to help your dog. Remember, the sooner you act, the better Fido’s chances for a speedy recovery.

Photo credit: Suat Eman

Pet and Bird Clinic offers low cost vaccines & low cost spays and neuters at either our North Austin Veterinary or South Austin Veterinary clinics.

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