Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Dr. Pansy Suzuki
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If you have a fur baby and you or your family members love to indulge in chocolate, you’ve probably wondered what might happen if that inadvertent piece of brownie or chocolate cake dropped on the floor and your dog suddenly gobbles it up before you can even react….?! You’ll probably begin asking yourself the very common question: can dogs eat chocolate?
I have heard this scenario far too many times. Toxicities are one of the most common emergencies we see in the emergency room.
You probably have heard that you should never share chocolate with your pup, but may still feel a little confused on how much and what is truly toxic. Because of this, a common question that enters many pet owner’s minds is… What happens when my dog eats chocolate? Why is it so dangerous?
What Pet Parents Should Think About When Asking “Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?”
In the article below, you’ll find out some basic information you need to know about the relationship between dogs and chocolate. You can use this information to make sure your pet is healthy and safe if they does consume chocolate accidentally.
If your dog has consumed chocolate and you’re not sure what you should do, contact your nearest emergency vet right away. The doctor will be able to give you guidance to make sure your pet gets the appropriate care they need as soon as possible.
Below is some important information you should know about when asking if dogs can eat chocolate:
Types of Chocolate
It’s important to know about the different types of chocolate that your dog could consume. Different types of chocolate can cause different levels of toxicity in your pet. Toxicity is also dependent on type, quantity and the weight of your pet.
White chocolate doesn’t contain much theobromine or caffeine, which are the toxic substances in chocolate that can be harmful to dogs. It may still contain a trace amount of these chemicals, but the amount is typically very low – so most dogs will have no reactions if they accidentally consume some white chocolate.
Milk chocolate contains a little more theobromine and caffeine than white chocolate. It is enough to cause harm to small dogs, young or senior dogs, or any dog with underlying health conditions.
Milk chocolate is also toxic and dangerous if consumed in large quantities. A small bite of milk chocolate ingested accidentally is probably okay for most large dogs, but you should still contact a veterinarian for advice.
Dark chocolate contains a significantly higher amount of theobromine and caffeine than white or milk chocolate, and it should never be given to dogs under any circumstances.
If your dog accidentally ingests dark chocolate, we recommend seeking out the nearest emergency veterinarian, as this type of chocolate can be extremely toxic to your pet.
Baking chocolate is a type of dark chocolate that is highly concentrated and not very sweet. It contains the most theobromine and caffeine, which makes it the most toxic and extremely dangerous for your pet. If your pet consumes any amount of baking chocolate, this should be treated as a true emergency. Please seek the closest emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.
Quantity of Chocolate
When thinking about the question “can dogs eat chocolate?”, it’s not only important to think about the type of chocolate that was eaten but also the amount that your pet consumed. This will be very important information to share with your veterinarian or emergency vet so they have as much insight as possible when making treatment recommendations.
A Little Chocolate
If your dog eats a small amount of chocolate, they might be just fine with a little bit of gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea). This is dependent on the type of chocolate they may have eaten as well as the size/weight of your pet, age, and any preexisting health conditions.
A Lot of Chocolate
Eating a large amount of chocolate is never good for dogs, but again, the severity of the condition will depend on the type of chocolate your dog ingested.
If your fur baby ate an entire bag of white chocolate, he may still go on his merry way and be absolutely fine, but it is always a good idea to consult with your vet or emergency vet to make sure this is the case. On the other hand, if your dog eats several bars of baking chocolate, this is extremely dangerous and should be treated as a crisis. Take your dog to the emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.
Other Ingredients That Can be Harmful Along with Chocolate
Please be aware of other ingredients that can be found in chocolate that are harmful to dogs. These added ingredients can add to the danger of chocolate consumption for your pet.
Please note the ingredients below that can add onto the toxicity levels of the chocolate your pet may have consumed:
Artificial sweeteners are all dangerous for dogs, but Xylitol is the most toxic. Xylitol can cause a dog’s insulin and blood sugar to suddenly drop and can cause seizures. Xylitol also is toxic to your dog’s liver. A large amount can cause liver failure that eventually can lead to death.
Xylitol poisoning is very serious, so if your dog consumes chocolate that contains this sweetener, please seek emergency veterinary care immediately.
Fruits or Nuts
Some chocolate bars and candies contain added fruit or nuts. These ingredients can be potentially dangerous, especially if the chocolate contains raisins. Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, even in small quantities.
Coffee or Coffee Beans
Since chocolate already contains caffeine, the addition of coffee or coffee beans in a chocolate bar or candy can be extremely dangerous for your pet. Too much caffeine can cause your dog to suffer seizures or can even lead to death.
Contact VEG to Learn More About the Question “Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?”
So, if your dog accidentally eats some chocolate, you may not have to worry depending on the type and amount of chocolate that was ingested. Please call your veterinarian for guidance/recommendations. They will usually have a toxicity calculator on hand to be able to triage you over the phone.
As always, be sure to contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health.
If you want more information about the question “can dogs eat chocolate?”, or if your dog has eaten chocolate and you’re worried about it being a toxic amount, contact any one of our VEG locations as soon as you can! Most of our locations are open 24 hours, 7 days a week with emergency veterinarians who are ready to speak with you and give you assistance to make sure your pet gets the immediate attention they need.