Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Dog eating chocolate

Don’t we all wonder - Why is chocolate bad for dogs? Let us answer your question. 

Chocolate contains two compounds, theobromine and caffeine, both of which cause increased urination, stimulate the heart rate, dilate blood vessels and relax the smooth muscles. Unlike us humans, dogs do not have the same ability to digest these compounds which makes them very susceptible to the effects of chocolate. 

The amount of theobromine in chocolate varies depending on the type. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more hazardous it is to dogs. For example, baking chocolate and luxury dark chocolate are rich in theobromine, containing 130-450 mg per ounce. Milk chocolate has about 44-58 mg of theobromine per ounce, whereas white chocolate contains only 0.25 mg per ounce. White chocolate rarely causes chocolate poisoning, even if the amount of chocolate consumed is very little, but dogs can still fall sick from the fat and sugar in chocolate. 

What happens when dogs eat chocolate?

Depending on the type and quantity of chocolate consumed and your dog’s body weight, chocolate toxicity can become a serious medical emergency. Eating a tiny crumb of chocolate cake or a tiny piece of candy bar is unlikely to kill your dog, especially if they are a larger breed. However, chocolate should never be fed as a treat. 

Even minuscule chocolate consumption in dogs shows symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and polydipsia (increased water intake). At higher concentrations, cardio-toxic effects and seizures may be observed. 

Theobromine and caffeine inhibit receptors in cells, which results in stimulation of the nervous system, increased heart rate and increased urination. The high-fat content of chocolate triggers pancreatitis. Death can occur due to abnormal heart functions, hyperthermia and respiratory failure. 

Here are the symptoms of eating chocolate in dogs

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 6-12 hours after ingestion, and can last up to 72 hours. Long term effects of dogs eating chocolate when unobserved will lead to fatal medical complications. The most common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Restlessness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Increased urination
  • Trembling/twitching
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse & death

Chocolates are deadly to dogs in any concentration. Never feed chocolate even as a treat. 

If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately for medical assistance. 

If a small quantity of chocolate was consumed, your dog will need to be induced to vomit and will be provided with plenty of fluids to increase urination. For moderate to high concentration of chocolate consumption, immediate medical intervention is necessary to start supportive treatment, including intravenous fluids.