Why Chocolate is Bad for Dogs

Your dog can get very, very sick, and even die from eating chocolate.


Do you love chocolate?  Who does not?  Even your dog seems to love it. While it probably is pretty darn tasty to your pooch, it is not a good idea to let Fido eat chocolate.  Your dog can get very, very sick and even die from eating this kind of treat.

Many people think that culprit that is toxic to dogs in chocolate is caffeine.  It is not.  While chocolate does have caffeine, it is the theobromine in chocolate that is the potential dog killer. Theobromine and caffeine are both from the methylxanthine family of chemical compounds, a family of stimulants.

How much theobromine is in chocolate?  Theobromine levels will vary according to the manufacturer, but in general, white chocolate has one milligram per ounce of theobromine, milk chocolate has forty-four milligrams per ounce, and semi-sweet chocolate has one hundred and fifty milligrams per ounce.  If your pet gets into your hot chocolate, it will drink thirteen milligrams per ounce of hot chocolate that it slurps up.   Bakers chocolate is by far the worst, with three hundred and ninety milligrams of theobromine per ounce.  

How much chocolate will kill a dog?  Part of the equation has to include the age and health of your pet.  If your dog is twelve years old and does not get around as well as it did in the past, a smaller amount of chocolate might be lethal to it than it might have been if your pet was two years old and spending the day chasing cats and birds.  In general, theobromine is toxic to dogs when dogs eat one hundred to one hundred and fifty milligrams of it.

How much chocolate is this it real terms?  To be on the “safe” side, consider one hundred milligrams of theobromine to be toxic.  After all the math is done, roughly twelve ounces of milk chocolate is going to be very dangerous for a twelve-pound dog or one ounce of milk chocolate for every pound that a dog weighs.   If your dog weighs thirty-six pounds, eating twelve ounces of semi-sweet chocolate will get your canine very ill. 

The ratio for semi-sweet chocolate is one ounce for every three pounds your pet weighs. If your eighteen-pound dog gets into your bakers chocolate, it will only take two ounces of bakers chocolate for the theobromine to be in the toxic range, or a ratio of one ounce to every nine pounds that your pet weighs.  Remember that dogs do not seem to taste bitterness so that even though bakers chocolate does not taste go to you, your pet will still think it a treat.  White chocolate will make your dog sick because of the fat content long before the toxic levels of theobromine are reached, but still should be avoided as a treat for your pooch.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?  Your dog might start to vomit or have diarrhea.  It might start to tremble for no reason, be over-excited, or actually start to have seizures. It may fall into a coma and ultimately die.  The best thing to do for your pet is to get it to your veterinarian within two hours of ingestion.  

Also, keep in mind that chocolate has a half-life of seventeen and one-half hours.  This means that only half of the chocolate your pet ate will be out of its system after this time period has passed.  If your dog gets into chocolate twice within a twenty-four hour period, it could still be in danger because not all of the chocolate that it ate the first time has worked its way through your pet’s body.

So, do not encourage your dog to eat chocolate in any form.  Once dogs develop a taste for chocolate, they will want to eat it.  And remember the next time you leave that twelve-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate out before you make chocolate chip cookies that you had better keep an eye on your dog because your dog is probably going to be keeping an eye on that package of chocolate chips.