Top Ad 728x90

Why should you never give your dog chocolate?

Christmas and Easter are two times of the year when dogs' health is particularly at risk and emergency veterinary services are frequently confronted with chocolate poisoning in dogs. Many pet owners are still unaware that this food product - reserved for humans - is dangerous for their four-legged friends. Zoom on the toxicity of chocolate.

Theobromine in chocolate: a dangerous alkaloid for dogs

Chocolate should never be given to a domestic carnivore because it causes intoxication. It contains, among other things, theobromine. This is the powerful element contained in cocoa. The more cocoa there is in a chocolate bar, the more it contains. Like caffeine, it belongs to the group of methylxanthines. It is an alkaloid, which is an organic substance of plant origin.

An alkaloid can have therapeutic but also toxic effects. There is indeed a difference between quinine, caffeine, morphine... or theobromine, which are all alkaloids. If their role can be beneficial for humans, some alkaloids are only delivered on medical prescription because they can be extremely dangerous for the human body depending on the dosage. But the risk is much higher for an animal.

From what quantity is chocolate dangerous for the dog?

Theobromine is a stimulant of the myocardium and the nervous system. It increases the diuresis, favors the relaxation of the bronchial muscles fibers but also of the other muscles. It represents a real danger for the health of the dog because this animal has a slower metabolism than his master. The alkaloid stays longer in the animal's body. The risk of toxicity depends on the quantity of theobromine ingested and the weight of the dog.

Chocolate can therefore affect :
  • The nervous system,
  • The cardiovascular system,
  • The muscles,
  • The urinary system.
Symptoms are mild with 20 mg of theobromine per kg, serious from 40 mg/kg and the dog presents convulsions as soon as the dose reaches 60 mg/kg.

It is important to know that a dog dies if it absorbs 80 mg of theobromine per kilo, that is to say for a small dog of 7 kg, 560 mg of this alkaloid. This is called the lethal dose. You have to be very careful because depending on the composition of the chocolate, the alkaloid content is extremely variable.

What type of chocolate is toxic for the dog?

Cocoa beans and cocoa powder are the richest in alkaloid. Dark chocolate is also very toxic because it is rich in cocoa. It should be avoided for both dogs and cats. As a precaution, you should not give milk chocolate to your pet either, because it is also toxic. As for the famous white chocolate, it does not contain theobromine - or only traces of it, depending on the brand. But it's not chocolate!

All breeds of dogs are vulnerable to theobromine contained in cocoa (and therefore in chocolate). It seems that brachycephalic dogs are even more sensitive to it because they have a fragile respiratory system but also a heart condition.

Anyway, whether you have a Great Dane, a Tervuren, a Dachshund or a Bulldog, you should not give chocolate to your dog. Be careful if the animal is very greedy, and moreover, pilferer because it is doomed to a certain death by intoxication if it consumes a complete bar of dark chocolate. So we put away chocolate bites, chocolate bars, cocoa and other sweets of this type in the cupboards.

Chocolate poisoning: symptoms in dogs

A dog that has eaten chocolate may present one or more of the following symptoms
  • Vomiting,
  • Irritability,
  • Agitation,
  • Hyperthermia,
  • Faster heart rate than usual,
  • Muscle rigidity,
  • Very frequent urination,
  • Convulsions,
  • Coma,
  • Death.
If the dog has consumed a large dose of chocolate, it risks death by cardiac arrest.

Symptoms can occur in some cases as early as 4 hours after ingesting chocolate, but more commonly within 24 hours and persist for 72 hours. It is very important that the dog be treated urgently as the life of the dog is at risk if a lethal dose has been ingested. It may be helpful to call your local veterinary poison control center for information on what to do in case of chocolate poisoning.