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Chocolate and Your Dog: Fact or Conspiracy

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and the Beach Dog Daycare has two very important holiday reminders. One, don’t forget to spoil the ones you love. Two, keep chocolate away from your furry-four-legged family members. One question we get asked frequently, especially around the holidays, is whether chocolate is poisonous to dogs. So in honor of our loved ones, both non-furry and furry alike, we have decided to address everything related to chocolate and your dog.

The simple answer to the question; is chocolate poisonous to my dog, is yes. Real chocolate has poisonous components that dogs do not digest like humans. The two most noted are theobromine and caffeine. In humans, both of these stimulants are used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulants, blood vessel dilators, and smooth muscle relaxants. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine like humans. Dogs metabolize these chemicals at a slow rate. Much like the symptoms that humans experience when they consume too much caffeine, dogs experience the same symptoms in smaller amounts. It’s also important to know your breed. In this situation size matters. Especially when it comes to chocolate and smaller dog breeds. Therefore the reaction in a dog's system can result in harmful symptoms and in rare cases, death. When it comes to chocolate and your dog, you should always be cautious.

Here at The Beach Dog, we have also been confronted with thoughts that chocolate and your dog are simply conspiracy theories. This is a dangerous mindset. Most claims stem from dog owners that have experienced their dogs getting into, and eating their chocolate, with no adverse effects. One contributing factor to remember is that not all chocolate is equal. Some of the cheaper treats contain minimal amounts of real chocolate, which make them less toxic. The pricier the chocolate the more natural cocoa, therefore higher quantities of theobromine and caffeine. This list of chocolate is ordered to show the highest concentration of theobromine and caffeine, and all should be kept safely away from your dog.

Highest to lower Levels of Theobromine and Caffeine

  1. Cocoa powder (most toxic)

  2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate

  3. Semisweet chocolate

  4. Dark chocolate

  5. Milk chocolate

If you think that your dog has ingested chocolate, The Beach Dog always recommends contacting your veterinarian right away. It can never hurt to have your dog's healthcare provider in the know. Medical advice is always the best advice when it comes to chocolate and your dog. That being said, there are chocolate toxicity calculators available online. These calculators gauge toxicity by the type of chocolate and the size and weight of your dog. All indicators within the research agree, if you know your dog has gotten into chocolate, the earliest treatment is always the best. So never hesitate to contact your veterinarian for professional advice. In some situations, symptoms may appear when it’s unknown that chocolate may be the culprit. Below is a list of indicators that your dog may have ingested chocolate.

Signs of Chocolate Toxicity in your Dog Vomiting Diarrhea Increased body temperature Increased reflex responses Muscle rigidity Rapid breathing Increased heart rate Low blood pressure Seizures

So there you have it, the dangers of chocolate and your dog are based in fact, it’s not just a conspiracy theory. The facts show that chocolate is toxic to your dog because a dog's metabolism is slow to break down theobromine and caffeine. The fact that dogs metabolize these chemicals at a slow rate means that the symptoms humans experience with high levels, dogs experience in smaller quantities. The facts also state that the type of chocolate ingested, the amount, the size and weight of your dog, and the metabolism of your dog, are all contributing factors in the toxicity levels when it comes to chocolate and your dog.


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