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Dogs and Chocolate: How Much is Too Much?

 by danielle on 24 Jun 2014 |
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Whilst we humans love chocolate as a snack, we know it is a bad idea to feed it to dogs. Of course, often dogs are convinced they would quite enjoy ‘sharing’ with us and there have been tales of dogs breaking into a box of chocolates and polishing them off.

If a dog does accidentally get a hold of a chocolate product, owners often ask how much is too much? The answer varies from dog to dog, with larger dogs being able to tolerate larger amounts than smaller breeds.

Chocolate provokes such disastrous results in dogs due to a compenent it contains called theobromine. Whilst we humans can easily metabolise the substance, the dog digestive system processes it far more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels.

Whilst one small piece is unlikely to cause your dog serious distress (though it make instigate a case of vomiting or diarrhea) it is best to be on the safe side if you are unsure how much they have gotten into and take a trip to the vet. Serious signs of chocolate poisoning include severe hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, irregular heartbeart, internal bleeding and heart failure.

Note that different chocolate products contain varying levels of theobromine.  The highest levels are found in cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate and the lowest levels in milk and white chocolate.

Due to these differences a dog consuming a few pieces of dark chocolate can cause deadly results that would not happen if they instead ate milk chocolate. Only one ounce of dark is enough to poison a 44-pound dog.

As a general rule, 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight of theobromine causes canine poisoning.


Treatment options are limited. The general course of action is to induce vomiting, wash out the stomach and feed activated charcoal to absorb any remaining theobromine left in the intestines. For more severe cases, intravenous fluids and medication may be required. 


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