Is Small Amounts of Chocolate Harmful to Dogs?
The other day, my dog ate chocolate. It was only a small amount, but I’m not sure whether or not it’s harmful to him. What should I do? The truth is that dogs can’t metabolize cocoa beans like humans can, so the main ingredient in chocolate (theobromine) isn’t processed well by their bodies.
That means they are more likely to have adverse reactions when they eat even small amounts of chocolate than we would be. Let’s take a look at this article for some tips on what you should do if your pet eats anything containing cocoa beans!
What is chocolate and why does it harm dogs?
The first thing we should do is to take a look at what chocolate actually is and why it can be harmful to dogs. As you probably know, cocoa beans are used in many recipes that use chocolate as an ingredient. These beans belong to the cocao tree (Theobroma cacao). They grow pods that hold anywhere from 20-40 cocoa beans inside them; each single pod holds all of the seeds needed for the next generation of trees!
Once these cocoa pods ripen and fall off the tree, they begin fermenting and eventually ferment fully, resulting in very dark brown seeds (cocoa mass) with a moist, sticky paste called cocoa butter surrounding them. This paste has a bitter flavor and is separated from the cocoa mass through a process of pressing. Then, the cocoa butter is thickened to make it solid (cocoa powder). This paste and its by-products are all components of chocolate!
But you probably know that already since chocolate is so yummy! It’s no wonder dogs want to eat some too… But what makes this treat potentially harmful to them? Theobromine is an ingredient found in cocoa beans’ chemical makeup. When humans metabolize theobromine, they break down about 97% of it into waste products, while dogs only metabolize 40% of it. That means if your dog eats something containing chocolate or cocoa beans, their bodies just can’t handle as much of it as yours can!
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs.
If your dog eats too much it can cause some serious problems. An overdose of theobromine can lead to nausea, an increase in urination, tremors, heart palpitations, seizures and even death for dogs! All mammals are able to metabolize small amounts of caffeine (a substance found in large amounts in cocoa beans).
So it’s not the caffeine that is harmful to them; just the larger amount of theobromine found within the cocoa beans. Some other symptoms that usually result from eating chocolate are diarrhea or vomiting. If you think your pet has eaten any food containing cacao/cocoa powder or chocolate, contact your vet immediately!
How much chocolate can a dog eat before they are harmed ?
It’s really important to know how much chocolate your dog can eat before it becomes harmful. Though there is no exact amount that we can say is OK to give your pet, we do know how many milligrams (mg) of theobromine and caffeine it contains and can use that knowledge to guide us in determining an appropriate amount for dogs. The reason why the numbers are so different between species is because dogs have a very hard time metabolizing theobromine.
As with humans, these amounts may vary depending on the type of chocolate eaten as well as other factors such as your dog’s health or age. The following chart gives you an idea about some types of chocolate and their danger levels based on serving size:
- Serving size is defined as 1 oz. of the chocolate listed
- A small dog is considered to be a dog that weighs less than 25 lbs./10 kg and a large dog is any dog weighing over 25 lbs.
Is dark chocolate more dangerous than milk chocolate?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple yes or no answer! There is a slightly higher concentration of theobromine in dark chocolate, but there are other factors to consider such as how much your pet ate and even where they got their chocolate from.
Remember that cocoa beans from different kinds of plants have varying concentrations of theobromine depending on what region they’re grown in and at what altitude! The most important factor to look at is your dog’s weight.
Can a dog eat chocolate if they only ate a little bit?
It is possible that a smaller amount of chocolate would not be dangerous to your pet, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. It’s best to contact your vet as soon as you can whether or not you think it will cause any problems. Smaller dogs are at greater risk, so make sure you know how much was eaten and what type of chocolate it was before making a judgement call.
What should I do if my dog ate some chocolate?
You should try to find out exactly how many grams or ounces were ingested and what type of chocolate it was (milk, dark etc.). If your pet is acting normal and isn’t showing any signs of illness, it’s still a good idea to call your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
What should you do if your dog has eaten some chocolate ?
The following is a step-by-step guide to treating your dog based on the type of chocolate consumed and how much they ate. Keep in mind that each situation is unique, so it’s best to contact your vet if you’re unsure about anything!
Chocolate containing BAKING SODA:
Milk chocolate: 2oz./57g or more per pound (.5 kg) of body weight. Symptoms can be seen with as little as 1 oz (28 g). Remember that this amount varies depending on the weight of your pet and what type of milk chocolate was eaten, not just how much overall.
Dark chocolate: 4oz./113g or more per pound (.5 kg) of body weight. Once again, the amount varies depending on your pet’s weight and what type of chocolate it was.
If you think that your pet has eaten chocolate containing baking soda, call your vet immediately! If the chocolate is in solid form (milk chocolate bar) and they’ve consumed less than 2 oz. per pound (.5 kg) of body weight, induce vomiting.
Give them 3-4 teaspoons (15-20 ml) of hydrogen peroxide to do so. If there are other symptoms such as seizures or abnormal heart rhythms begin CPR if needed until help arrives!
Milk chocolate: 1/2 oz./14g or more per pound (.1 kg) of body weight; dark chocolate: 1/4 oz./7g or more per pound (.1 kg) of body weight. Remember that this amount varies depending on the weight of your pet and what type of chocolate it was, not just how much overall.
Chocolate containing PHENYLALANINE:
Milk chocolate: 4 oz./113g or more per pound (1 kg) of body weight; dark chocolate: 8 oz./226g or more per pound (1 kg) of body weight. Like with other types, the amount varies depending on your pet’s weight and what kind of chocolate it ate.
If you think your dog has eaten a product containing phenylalanine, call your vet immediately!
It is important to keep in mind that dogs are not humans. If you have a dog who eats anything and all sorts of things, then yes small amounts of chocolate might be harmful to them. However, if your dog has been eating healthy for years without any problems whatsoever there’s no need to worry about the occasional bite or two of chocolate. Just make sure they always get plenty of water at meal time!