Does Your Dog Have Issues? Yappy has the answers.

Dear Yappy,

I have heard that it can be dangerous if my dog eats chocolate.  Is this true?

Darlene C.

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. Theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity. A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea.

Not all chocolates have the same level of toxicity to dogs. The important questions are: What type of chocolate did he eat? And how much?

The Merck Veterinary Manual shows the approximate levels of theobromine in different types of chocolate, as follows:

 

Chocolate Type   Theobromine Level
Dry cocoa powder   800 mg/oz.
Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate   450 mg/oz.
Cocoa bean mulch   255 mg/oz.
Semisweet / sweet dark chocolate   150-160 mg/oz.
Milk chocolate   44-64 mg/oz.
White chocolate    insignificant amount

 

The following table shows you the type and the quantity of chocolate a dog has to eat in order to cause signs of toxicity, in accordance with the size of the dog.

Chocolate Type Toxicity/per lb. 10 lb. Dog 20 lb. Dog
White Chocolate 200 oz. 125 lbs. 250 lbs.
Milk Chocolate 1 oz. 8 oz. (2-3 chocolate bars) 1 lb. (5-6 chocolate bars)
Semi-sweet Chocolate 1 oz. 8 oz. 1 lb.
Sweet Cocoa 0.3 oz. 1/6 lb. 1/3 lb.
Baker’s Chocolate 0.1 oz. 1 oz. 2 oz.

 

Signs of chocolate poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating

Dogs with more advanced chocolate poisoning show signs such as:

  • Increased restlessness
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Death, which is rare, is caused by cardiac arrest.

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