Little Fluffers scampers over to a dark blob on the floor and eagerly tries to eat it. Immediately, you start screaming for him to drop it. Sound familiar? It is a well-known fact that chocolate is bad for dogs. There are horror stories about dogs being rushed to the vet after consuming hefty amounts of chocolate. What is it about chocolate that turns it into a lethal substance for dogs?
Chocolate contains theobromine which is a chemical compound that becomes xanthine once it metabolizes in a dog’s liver. Xanthine is highly toxic for canines as it interferes with cell enzymes and stimulates the nervous system. Once this occurs, dogs experience an increased heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, internal bleeding, or a heart attack; it can lead to death if not treated immediately. Unfortunately, dogs love sweets and are notorious for eating whatever is in sight. When a dog consumes chocolate, his body will try to rid itself of the toxin through vomiting and diarrhea.
But WAIT…why is chocolate only bad for dogs and not humans?
Technically, chocolate is poisonous to humans, as well. But don’t worry, humans can digest theobromine much more quickly, and therefore, it is harmless. Theobromine is also found in coffee, but as we know, coffee is not lethal to humans, either. (Thank goodness!) For a human to become poisoned by chocolate, the average person would need to eat 44 pounds of chocolate in 24 hours. Ok, that’s a lot…
So just how much chocolate does a dog need to ingest before it becomes lethal? It all depends on the size, age, and health of your dog. However, here are a few guidelines to help:
Milk Chocolate: On average, one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 20 lb dog and one-half pound for a 10 lb dog. Most chocolate bars contains 2 to 3 ounces of milk chocolate, so around 2-3 candy bars would poison a 10 lb dog.
Baking/Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is deadlier than milk, as it contains more theobromine. Two one-ounce squares of dark chocolate is toxic to a 20 lb dog and one ounce for a 10 lb dog.
Sweetened Cocoa (Hot Chocolate Mix): One-third of a pound of sweetened cocoa is toxic to a 20 lb dog and 1/6 pound for a 10 lb dog.
White Chocolate: A lot would have to be consumed for white chocolate to be toxic—it doesn’t contain much theobromine.
If you see a dog ingest chocolate, make sure he gets proper medical care immediately—better safe than sorry when it comes to our beloved pets. As for us humans, we can keep enjoying the heavenly taste of chocolate—as long as our furry friends are far, far away!