Someone at some time told you that chocolate will make a dog sick, very sick. Is this really true? Well, yes it can be, but it depends on a few factors. The harmful compounds in chocolate are methylxanthines, which are respiratory stimulants used in asthma drugs. Theobromine is the specific methylxanthine found in cacao used for those delicious chocolate bars we eat.
Higher quality chocolate, with a higher percentage of cacao, is more dangerous to dogs than lower quality chocolate usually found at the drugstore counter. Dark chocolate is worse than milk or white chocolate. A larger dog (100 pounds) can eat more chocolate and not have adverse symptoms, whereas a smaller dog (20 pounds) can experience seizures, tremors, incontinence and/or vomiting from ingesting just a small amount of chocolate.
When a person eats a chocolate bar, he is able to metabolize the dose of caffeine within the course of a day. A dog, however, is unable to metabolize Theobromine effectively and a great deal of stress is placed on his nervous system and kidneys.
The first line of treatment for chocolate toxicity is to induce vomiting. Many vets will encourage giving the pet a few teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide to make the dog vomit at home. You should check with the vet if you decide to do this at home instead of going to the vet.
The following chart is from Dog Owners Digest and it gives a few examples of toxic amounts of:
- White chocolate: 200 ounces per pound of body weight. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause signs of poisoning in a 20-pound dog, 125 pounds for a 10-pound dog.
- Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of body weight. Approximately one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 20-pound dog; one-half pound for a 10-pound dog. The average chocolate bar contains 2 to 3 ounces of milk chocolate. It would take 2-3 candy bars to poison a 10 pound dog. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level.
- Sweet cocoa: 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight. One-third of a pound of sweet cocoa is toxic to a 20-pound dog; 1/6 pound for a 10-pound dog.
- Baking chocolate: 0.1 ounce per pound body weight. Two one-ounce squares of bakers’ chocolate is toxic to a 20-pound dog; one ounce for a 10-pound dog.