There are many opinions that we can find about the consumption of chocolate in dogs and what its effects are, although most of these opinions unfortunately only confuse us even more since chocolate is bad for a dog but only in high amounts.
It is totally false that a dog cannot eat chocolate, although it is true that in large quantities it can even be fatal. But… what is considered a high or harmful amount? What to do if my dog eats chocolate?
We’re going to go over everything you need to know about chocolate and its effects on dogs, how much they can safely eat and what to do if they eat too much chocolate. What kind of treatments exist and how to act at all times.
Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?
Chocolate is made from cocoa, and cocoa contains a molecule called theobromine that is harmful to dogs. Theobromine is only found in cocoa, so a bar of milk chocolate contains much less theobromine than a bar of pure chocolate.
Theobromine is a central nervous system exciter, practically harmless to humans but actually toxic to dogs in moderate amounts. In addition, at general levels, chocolate bars also contain large amounts of sugar, something that is harmful to dogs (and humans). Here you can see the list of toxic foods for dogs.
According to the source consulted, the lethal dose (LD50) is between 100 and 200 mg/kg. Some sources put it at higher amounts, suggesting that there is considerable individual variation. The reason why it is toxic in dogs and not in humans may be due to the metabolism of methylxanthines (a group of compounds that includes theobromine together with theine and caffeine) since in humans the half-life is 6 hours while in dogs it is almost triple: 17 and a half hours.
If you have consumed other methylxanthines (caffeine or theine) in addition to the theobromine in chocolate, the toxic dose of chocolate is reduced since the metabolism of these compounds occurs in the same enzymatic pathway. Many chocolates may contain caffeine so their toxicity would be greater.
A small amount of theobromine will not cause harm to our dog, but a large amount can even cause death. Taking pure chocolate as an example, between 2 and 5 grams of chocolate per kilo of dog weight will suffice to start intoxicating.
In order to get a more accurate idea of the damage that theobromine can do depending on the source of origin, look at the following table:
Type of product and the concentration of methylxanthines:
- Dry cocoa powder 28mg/g
- Sugar free chocolate 16mg/g
- Semi-sweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate 5.4 / 5.7 mg/g
- Milk chocolate 2.3mg/g
- Refined chocolate candies 1.4 / 2.1 mg/g
- White chocolate minimum quantities
Symptoms of poisoning in dogs due to chocolate consumption:
- 20 mg/kg: Agitation, hyperactivity and gastrointestinal (vomiting and diarrhea)
- >40 mg/kg: Cardiac signs
- > 60 mg/kg: Neurological signs
- > 100 – 200 mg/kg: Fatal
To calculate the toxic amount of each product is very simple, each data is multiplied by the weight of the dog and divided by the amount of theobromine per gram that each product has (attached in the table at the beginning).
In order not to have to worry about the quantities, it is best to avoid giving chocolate to our dogs and thus avoid all risk. Although if they eat a small piece from time to time, you should not be scared because absolutely nothing happens.
If you think your puppy has eaten chocolate, you suspect it, or you are simply not sure because you have not been able to control how much it eats… it is best not to wait for symptoms to appear and take it to the vet. Another option is to pay close attention during the following hours in case you show any of these symptoms.
The symptoms manifested will vary according to the amount of theobromine that the dogs have absorbed, the greater the amount, the greater the severity they will have (see above table). These have considerable severity, from hyperactivity with diarrhea and vomiting to nervous signs such as seizures.