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Why Can't Dogs Eat Chocolate?

Dogs eating chocolate should be a matter of great concern, as this foodstuff is toxic for canines.
Deepa Kartha Apr 7, 2019
Most dog owners have the habit of sharing finger foods that they are eating, with their pets. This is also true in the case of chocolate, which is something that most people love to indulge in. Though sharing food with your pet dog shows your love for him/her, chocolate can actually cause health problems to your canine. It can even be life-threatening.
Though chocolate toxicity in dogs is a serious issue, most owners are not aware of it. As this is something that can result in the death of the pet, owners ought to know about it in detail.

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs - Myth or Reality?

Apart from the people who do not know that something like chocolate toxicity exists in dogs, there are also people who consider this connection to be a myth. However, one must understand that chocolate toxicity is definitely not a myth. It is actually an issue that has to be dealt with very seriously.
The problem with chocolate is that it is available in abundance in the house, especially during holidays. To make matters worse, dogs actually love the smell of chocolate. Moreover, if the dog happens to consume it, he/she can develop a taste and craving for it too.

Why is it Poisonous?

The reason why this much-loved indulgence is so harmful to canines is because of the presence of a stimulant known as theobromine. This stimulant is found in Theobroma cacao, a cocoa bean plant that is used in the process of making chocolate.
This stimulant has a drastic effect on the central nervous system as well as the heart of the dog, which can cause the animal to experience epileptic seizures and many times, even death.
Many people want to know what actually determines the severity of the condition of the concerned dog. The answer to this question is actually quite vague.
Though the level of toxicity will depend on the percentage of theobromine present in the chocolate, the weight of the dog also plays a significant role. The type of chocolate consumed by the dog is also important, because the level of theobromine is not the same in all chocolates.
In case of white chocolate, the toxicity can be measured as 200 ounces for one pound of body weight. The least toxic of all is milk chocolate, which can be weighed as one ounce for one pound of weight. The semi-sweet variety also comes to the same level.
In case of sweet cocoa and baking chocolate, the toxicity level is 0.1 ounces per pound of body weight. If either of these is consumed, the toxicity can be moderate to severe. Though the amount of chocolate consumed does matter when considering the severity of the condition, there have been cases where even a small amount has caused dangerous consequences.

Toxicity Symptoms

If pet owners accidentally feed their dog some chocolate or if the dog eats some without their knowledge, there are some symptoms that may be visible in the dog. A few of the symptoms are listed here.
  • Frequent urination
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Canine diarrhea
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Excitability
  • Muscle tremors

Dealing With It

As this is a grave problem, knowing what to do when it happens is very important. Having certain things at home which can aid in relieving the symptoms can be helpful. All families who have dogs should be equipped with a box of hydrogen peroxide, as it is one of the best ways of treating chocolate toxicity.
One teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of the dog's body weight should be mixed with water and fed every ten minutes till the dog vomits the chocolate. This should be followed by administering charcoal to your dog, as this helps in eliminating the toxicity completely.
However, if the symptoms are becoming severe even with the hydrogen peroxide, it is extremely crucial to rush your pet to the nearest vet immediately. Even if the symptoms die down with the help of these treatment measures, going to the vet is very important.
The best thing you can do is, prevent your dog from getting hold of any kind of chocolate. If you or any of your family members, especially kids, have the habit of sharing food with the dog while eating, they should be explained as to why the chocolate is bad for the dog.
Also, the containers and shelves where chocolates are kept should be beyond the reach of your canine. Taking such simple but necessary precautions will ensure that your dog will be safe from the dangerous side effects of consuming chocolates.