Chocolate is made from the seeds of Theobroma cacao, which grow on trees belonging to the genus Theobroma. These trees are native to tropical South America, but have been cultivated in other regions as well. The seeds of Theobroma cacao are used to make cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. These ingredients are then mixed with sugar, milk and other flavorings before being molded into the universally loved bars we know today. But can dogs eat chocolate?
Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?
Theobromine, the compound found in chocolate that is poisonous to dogs, is a xanthine alkaloid. Xanthines are a class of molecules that occur in many different plants, including coffee and tea. Theobromine is similar to caffeine, another xanthine alkaloid. Both theobromine and caffeine are toxic to dogs because they can’t be metabolized by their bodies as well as by humans. This means that the compound builds up in a dog’s system over time, causing symptoms of toxicity such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Different Types of Chocolate Differ in Toxicity Levels
Can dogs eat chocolate? There is no such thing as “good” chocolate when it comes to dogs. All types of chocolate are poisonous and should never be given to a dog under any circumstance. There are, however, some levels to how bad they are. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it will be for your pup. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are by far the most harmful to canines. In fact, a 50-pound dog would need to consume just over one ounce of baking chocolate in order to be poisoned. Milk chocolate contains less theobromine, but at the same time considerably more sugar and milk. White chocolate is the least toxic of all types because it contains less cocoa than both milk and dark varieties, but you still should not feed your dog this kind.
What Are the Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs?
The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the amount of chocolate they eat and the type of chocolate. Chocolate toxicity can be fatal for dogs because it causes them to have seizures and heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). Theobromine also affects their kidneys, making dehydration more likely if they eat too much chocolate. Some other common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and death. Signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 24 hours after ingestion and last up to 72 hours. If your dog has eaten any type of chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately!
What to Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate? Chocolate Poisoning First Aid
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate and there is no veterinary treatment available, you should induce vomiting as soon as possible. You can do this by giving them hydrogen peroxide orally or by making them drink a salt water solution. Activated charcoal in the form of tablets or powder may also be recommended to help absorb the toxins from the chocolate that have been digested.
Chocolate Alternatives For Dogs
It’s always best to err on the side of caution and not give your dog any chocolate at all! There are plenty of other treats available that are specifically made for dogs and are safe for them to eat. Most of them use cocoa, which is made from the cocoa bean, a different plant than the Theobroma cacao that chocolate is made from. Cocoa beans do not contain theobromine, so they are safe for dogs to eat! In fact, many dog treats are made with cocoa powder or cocoa butter. If you want, you can use this recipe for a dog-friendly “chocolate” cake.
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Dash of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and flour an eight-inch cake pan.
- Sift together cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add oil and water; mix well.
- Pour batter into a pan
- Bake for thirty minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake before serving to your dog! Enjoy!
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate? Final Verdict
So, can dogs eat chocolate? We’ll repeat once more for the people in the back: no, chocolate and dogs do not go together. Dogs can’t digest theobromine, which is a chemical compound found in chocolate and makes up about 60% of its weight. This means that even small amounts of this sweet treat will cause vomiting or diarrhea for your pup, not to mention in extreme cases it can prove lethal. Thank you for reading!
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