We’ve all heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, but almost everyone has seen their dog eat some, or heard about a dog that ate some chocolate without having a problem.
So what is the truth about dogs and chocolate? Is it bad or isn’t it?
Why do we hear chocolate is so bad when our dogs don’t get sick after eating it?
As with most confusing situations, you must consider more than one factor to understand how likely your dog may be to experience problems with chocolate.
1. How much chocolate did your dog eat?
2. What kind of chocolate did your dog eat?
3. Is your dog more sensitive than most to the dangerous chemicals in chocolate?
1. If a large dog eats a bon bon or a couple of M&M’s there is less chance of danger because the dosage of theobromine is a smaller percentage of their body weight. If a large dog, say a 100 lb Labrador, eats a 1 lb chocolate bar, it’s consumed only 1% of its body weight, that’s not nearly as dangerous as a 5 lb Yorkie eating a 1 lb chocolate bar at 20% of its body weight. Amount matters! Theobromine is a stimulant like caffeine. An overdose occurs much the same way, the bigger you are, the more you can usually tolerate.
2. Not only does size matter, but the type of chocolate matters too. The amount of theobromine found in different types of chocolate varies, darkest chocolates are most dangerous. Dark and bittersweet chocolates have a much higher concentration of the bad stuff (theobromine). White chocolate and milk chocolate have the lowest concentrations.
So, if a large dog eats a small quantity of milk chocolate, you’d want to keep an eye on the situation, but you probably won’t experience a life threatening problem.
If your small dog eats a relatively large quantity of dark, bakers, or bittersweet chocolate, watch the dog very closely for signs of distress.
3. Why you need to hurry if you think your dog might be in trouble: stimulant poisoning happens very, very quickly and some dogs are hypersensitive to theobromine. There is no way to tell in advance if your dog is hypersensitive, one second your dog gulps down some candy and the next moment he’s practically in a coma. It’s not likely to happen, but you can very suddenly find yourself in a life and death situation. Rushing to the vet is your dog’s only chance to survive if your dog is hypersensitive.
If your dog eats chocolate, watch closely for signs of hyperactivity; panting, excess salivation, rapid breathing, fainting, nervousness and any unusual behavior. If you see these signs and you’re concerned take the dog immediately to the nearest vet.
A little bit of hyper activity might not be a serious sign, however the instant you see signs of distress, rush immediately to the nearest vet for emergency care.