How Much Chocolate Will Harm a Dog?

When it comes to dogs and chocolate, most people know by now that chocolate isn’t good for dogs, but if you’ve ever come back to find your dog slinking around and a discarded chocolate wrapper on the ground, you might wonder whether you have cause for concern.

Will a little chocolate harm a dog? Does it depend on their body weight or chocolate type?

Both large and small dogs can react just as badly to as little as 3 ounces of chocolate. The main factor in determining how serious your dog’s chocolate poisoning is will be the type of chocolate.

Dogs can’t metabolize theobromine (a derivative of cocoa beans) as well as humans and are more sensitive to these chemicals.

There’s a lot that goes into why dogs (and cats, for that matter) react badly to chocolate, and you should avoid giving your dog chocolate even as a treat.

The rest of this article will dive into why chocolate harms dogs and how to judge the severity of their reaction to chocolate.

What in Chocolate Hurts Dogs?

Theobromine and caffeine are the primary culprits for causing toxicity in dogs. Dogs don’t metabolize these agents as well as humans do, so they tend to stick around in the bloodstream a lot longer, causing negative effects.

The theobromine is found in cocoa beans, the main ingredient in what makes chocolate so rich and creamy for us. That’s why the type of chocolate matters so much when diagnosing the severity of your dog’s condition.

Different types of chocolate have different percentages of cocoa. Dark chocolate, as I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, is the worst type of chocolate since it contains the most cocoa.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Regardless of your dog’s body weight, they will react badly to consuming chocolate, and more so the darker the chocolate.

Poisoning by chocolate is an emergency, and you should immediately take your dog to the vet if they’ve consumed chocolate. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Balance issues
  • Pancreatitis
  • Tremors

If you don’t know how much chocolate your dog has eaten, then you should keep an eye out for the following severe symptoms that indicate a serious chocolate poisoning:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Seizures
  • Spasms
  • Coma

Be quick in taking your dog to the vet if they’ve eating baking chocolate or unsweetened cocoa, since these have the highest amount of theobromine to cause toxicity in your dog.

With milk chocolate, white chocolate, or hot chocolate, you generally have less to worry about since the dog needs to consume a lot more to create a dangerous toxic environment in their body.

Final Thoughts

The theobromine in chocolate can’t be metabolized well by a dog’s body and can cause toxicity. If your dog has eaten chocolate, especially if you have no idea how much chocolate, a trip to your veterinarian is your first step.

It doesn’t take much chocolate (baking chocolate and cocoa powder in particular) to seriously hurt your dog.

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