Chocolate is well known as one of the most dangerous foods that a dog can ingest and is the result of many emergency visits for canines and their owners. Veterinary emergency rooms certainly see more than their fair share of cases where the chief concern is “my dog ate chocolate.”
How Bad is It?
There are a lot of factors that come into play when determining the severity of each individual case of chocolate ingestion. However, not each case can be treated the same way and professionals will have a few questions for the owner before they can begin treatment. So, can dogs eat chocolate and survive? That answer depends on the following factors.
Types Of Chocolate
The most important factor to take into consideration is the type of chocolate that the dog ingested. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are the least harmful, but baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate are infinitely more dangerous. A general rule of thumb is that the more bitter and dark the chocolate is, the more of a risk it poses.
For example, a fifty pound dog can ingest eight ounces of milk chocolate and show mild stomach upset, but only one ounce of baker’s chocolate would be poisonous to the same dog. The dog’s size also needs to be taken into consideration because a larger dog will be able to handle a larger amount of chocolate with fewer effects than a small dog.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?
Knowing why chocolate is dangerous to dogs can help owners be aware of any other similar risks that their canine companion should stay away from. Chocolate contains a component called theobromine, which is what poses the actual risk. It is chemically related to caffeine and is often referred to as a cousin to caffeine. Dogs metabolize theobromine extremely slowly and have a hard time breaking it down. By the time that a dog’s body can process and break down theobromine, it has often already caused a lot of damage and even death in severe cases.
Knowing what happens if a dog eats chocolate and which symptoms are the most dangerous can help an owner know whether or not they need to make a trip to the veterinarian. Depending on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog, symptoms can range from mild stomach upset to seizures and an irregular heart rate. In mild cases, owners will notice some vomiting and diarrhea after the dog has eaten chocolate.
The dog may also display signs of hyperactivity and restlessness, which is a result of the caffeine in the chocolate. More severe cases can cause the dog to present with seizures, respiratory failure and a rapid heart rate that can lead to cardiac arrest. The best course of action is to contact the dog’s regular veterinarian or an emergency clinic if it is after business hours. They can determine the severity of the situation and recommend the best course of action for each individual case.