Chocolate – For Humans, Not Dogs
Yummy, sweet, and absolutely delicious, chocolate stands as one of the best snacks in the world. It’s so versatile too in the different kinds of ways it can be incorporated into foods. You can dip strawberries into melted chocolate for a healthy, unhealthy combination, or perhaps bake yourself a moist chocolate cake, or maybe cook up a couple gooey chocolate chip cookies. Some of my favorite candy bars, Snickers and Twix, have something in common with one another; They are made with creamy chocolate!
Yes indeed, as amazing as this snack is, it still has a critical fault. What might that be? It’s easy to spot, really. The fault is white chocolate. Ha, I’m kidding! But seriously, while white chocolate is still a problem, I’m referring to a particular ingredient found inside of chocolate. It’s called theobromine, and theobromine is toxic for certain animals, one of those animals being a dog.
What makes it so deadly for our four-legged friend? It’s how the dogs digest it; they kind of have a difficult time doing so. A dog’s digestive system is not able to process the theobromine found in chocolate in a very efficient manner like us humans can. The half-life of theobromine in a dog is somewhere around 17.5 hours. Yikes, that’s awful!
Unfortunately, I don’t think you can buy theobromine-free chocolate for the simple reason that chocolate is made from cacao beans, a fruit that contains theobromine in it. There is no escaping the theobromine ingredient, sorry dogs.
There are two key factors when determining the lethality of chocolate. One of them is size, and the other is the type of chocolate. Let’s look at the size first:
Size or Weight
Size matters. Bigger dog breeds like German Shepherds, Bulldogs, or Dalmatians, can eat a far more considerable amount of chocolate than smaller dog breeds like Maltipoo, Chihuahuas, or Yorkshire Terriers, before experiencing chocolate poisoning. The reasoning is behind the weight. Just how much more chocolate can they eat, approximately? That depends on the type.
Time to do some math!
Dark Chocolate: A 5 pound Maltipoo puppy can consume 1 oz. of Dark Chocolate before reaching a toxic level. A 70 pound German Shepherd can consume 14 oz. of Dark Chocolate before reaching a toxic level. As you can see by the numbers, the difference in size is a huge factor, it enables a bigger dog to eat a greater amount. However, look what happens when we change the type of chocolate used.
Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate contains less theobromine than most chocolates. The 5 pound Maltipoo or 70 pound German Shepherd can eat double, or even triple the amount of Milk Chocolate than Dark Chocolate, before receiving theobromine poisoning.
Why does that happen? It’s the fact that different types of chocolate are made with varying amounts of theobromine. Some chocolates are simply more potent than others because they consist of more theobromine. The examples above are merely two types of chocolate available to consumers, there are still other, even stronger types of chocolate found in stores.
Seeing the above math, you might ponder if only giving a dog a smaller amount of chocolate without approaching the danger zone might be safer, but the answer is still a big fat NO! Even smaller quantities of chocolate can result in stomach pains for the dog. Common side effects also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and a whole bunch of stomach woes. Nobody wants to clean up that dirty mess, trust me! So for your dog’s well-being, and yours, and maybe your carpet flooring, avoid giving them a chocolatey snack, even when they beg for a nibble.
To keep your dog from ever chowing down on this dark treat, mull over on where you store your snack foods. I suggest high up in places they can’t reach, or safely tucked away inside of a drawer. Low down in cupboards is a big no no, because animals can have moments of brilliance. I have a few cats that can actually open my lower cupboard doors; they then go inside and fall asleep on top of any food in there. There are more comfortable places to rest than inside of a cupboard I tell them, but they are cats and do not listen to me! Anyways, keep your chocolate secure, high out of a dog’s reach, just not yours.
Chocolate Overload, What To Do
I warned you to hide that chocolate of yours, now look what’s happened! I’ve heard stories of dogs eating chocolate excessively, and the owners, instead of rushing their pet to the vet, decided to ride it out and see if the dog would recover. After the symptoms became too scary to keep waiting, only then did the owner decide to visit the veterinarian. Unfortunately, the dog arrived minutes too late, and passed away. How sad, if only the owner would have reacted sooner, there could have been a happy ending.
The moral of the story is, if suspecting that your dog has eaten a potentially fatal amount of chocolate, then don’t wait around! Action is required, the sooner the better. Immediately contact a veterinarian, and take them there quickly, every minute counts.
Something you might want to have in case of emergencies like the nightmarish situation above, is activated charcoal. It’s an antioxidant that can be used to treat poisoning such as this. It could buy your dog a bit of time before you rush them to the veterinarian’s office.
Basically, chocolate is not a dog’s best friend. It can poison them even in smaller quantities, and should be avoided entirely. Next time you are snacking on a delicious chocolate bar, and your dog looks up at you whining for a bite, resist the urge to share, because it could mean the life of your pet! It also means you get an extra bite of chocolate.