If you’re like many pet owners, you probably want to give your dog chocolate. Although the thought might cross your mind, of course, you know it’s best not to do so. But why can’t dogs eat chocolate, at least a little bit every now and then? Is it really all that dangerous?
Things to Consider When Asking the Question “Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?”
In the article below, you’ll find out more information about what makes chocolate harmful for dogs. You can use this information to better understand why you should never share chocolate with your dog, and you can also learn to recognize situations which may require a trip to the veterinarian as well. Read on to learn more.
Below are things you should know about why dogs can’t eat chocolate:
What Makes Chocolate Harmful?
Chocolate is harmful to dogs for a variety of reasons. However, the most significant of these is the presence of theobromine, which is a chemical found in all types of chocolate. Caffeine is also present in all chocolate, and the combination of these two substances is very dangerous for your pet.
Theobromine and caffeine both cause an increased heart rate in dogs, just like they do in humans. However, dogs are not able to metabolize these chemicals the same way humans are, so they remain in the system much longer and cause a lot more damage in the meantime.
Dogs also should not eat chocolate because it can lead to pancreatitis, which is a potentially fatal digestive problem. Additionally, eating too many sweet foods can increase a dog’s risk of developing diabetes.
Is All Chocolate the Same?
When asking “why can’t dogs eat chocolate?” you may also be wondering if all chocolate is the same in terms of their contents and the seriousness of the situation if your dog eats it.
In short, no, not all chocolate is the same in terms of theobromine or caffeine content. The darker the chocolate, the more likely it is to contain a lot of both of these chemicals.
White Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate
White chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine and caffeine (but still contains a little bit), while very dark chocolate has the most.
Just because white chocolate does not contain much caffeine or theobromine, this does not mean you can ignore it if your dog eats this substance. It does, however, mean that you might not be dealing with as serious of an emergency, but you should still call your vet just to be sure.
Baker’s chocolate, which is a more concentrated type of chocolate than the kind used for snacking, contains very high quantities of theobromine and caffeine. If your dog ingests baker’s chocolate of any type, or any kind of Cocoa powder, this is a potentially dangerous situation and should be treated as a pet emergency.
Dogs of any size can potentially be poisoned by eating baker’s chocolate or Cocoa powder.
What Symptoms are Associated with Dogs Eating Chocolate?
Now that we’ve gone over some important information about why can’t dogs eat chocolate, it’s crucial to know the signs that your dog may have eaten chocolate so you can know when to take them to get immediate veterinary care.
Symptoms that are associated with dogs eating chocolate include, but aren’t necessary limited to:
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Most dogs who eat chocolate will likely vomit fairly quickly after eating it, and they may have a bout of diarrhea from it as well.
If your dog vomits or has diarrhea just once or twice and then goes back to normal, this is probably not a sign of anything too serious. However, if the vomiting and diarrhea continue, this problem can quickly lead to dehydration in your pet.
Additional Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
Chocolate poisoning in dogs may cause symptoms including:
- Fast heart rate
- Restlessness or pacing
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Seizures (this is a more serious symptom)
It’s even possible that dogs could even die from eating too much chocolate, which is why it’s so important to get help immediately for your pet if they eat chocolate. While chocolate poisoning isn’t always fatal, it is not impossible.
Can’t My Dog Eat Just a Little Chocolate?
No, it’s best not to give your dog any chocolate at all. However, if your dog manages to eat just a small nibble of chocolate before you can stop him, he will probably be okay, depending on his size. His age, weight, and other health problems may also factor into the situation as well.
Always call your vet for accurate information about your pet.
How is Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs Treated at the Vet?
Your veterinarian may choose different treatment options based on the severity of the situation. Below are some potential ways your vet may treat this condition.
Activated Charcoal to Induce Vomiting
In mild to moderate cases of chocolate poisoning, your vet will likely give your dog activated charcoal to induce vomiting. Once your pet has vomited up all the chocolate he ate, he should go back to his usual self, although he may need IV fluids to help him along.
More Serious Treatments
In severe cases, your dog may need more serious treatments. Your vet will be able to give you more information about the type of treatment required for your dog’s chocolate poisoning. Never administer activated charcoal or provide any other treatments to your pet without your veterinarian’s guidance.
Call a Vet for More Information about Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate
As you can see, chocolate is dangerous for dogs for a few reasons. The next time you want to share a little bit of your favorite chocolate snacks with your pet, you can remember that you’re actually doing him a favor by not giving him any chocolate.
If your pet does ingest any chocolate, and especially if he eats a lot of it or he eats very dark chocolate, take him to the vet right away. The sooner you respond to your pet’s chocolate ingestion, the more likely he will be to recover fully from the incident.
If you’re looking for more information about the question “why can’t dogs eat chocolate?” or have any other questions about your pet’s health, contact our team at Caring Hearts Animal Hospital by calling us at (704) 893-2799 or scheduling an appointment online.