Is chocolate really bad for dogs?
15 March 2022
With Easter approaching and supermarket shelves full of treats, we wanted to address the question: Is chocolate really bad for dogs?
Chocolate contains two compounds that are toxic to dogs. The first is caffeine, and the second is theobromine. These are both stimulants, affecting the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, etc.
Dogs are more sensitive to these compounds compared to humans, and metabolise them more slowly. For this reason, chocolate is considered toxic for dogs.
The effects are similar to a person who has drunk too much coffee in a short period of time. Gastrointestinal upset and restlessness are the initial signs at the lower end, up to seizures if an excessive amount has been ingested. The type of chocolate also plays a part in the effects.
White chocolate is technically not chocolate, and does not contain any caffeine or theobromine, so there is no toxicity risk, but there can be gastrointestinal issues, such as pancreatitis, from the high amount of fat and sugar in the white chocolate.
Milk chocolate has the lowest amount (caffeine or theobromine), then dark chocolate has more, and baking chocolate has the most.
The first action to take is to induce emesis to get the dog to throw up the chocolate, to stop it from being absorbed. If this is not possible, then supportive care is required to help keep the dog stable while the body slowly metabolises the compounds. Activated charcoal can also be used to reduce the amount of toxin absorbed by the body.*
* Before commencing any treatment, seek medical advice from your local veterinary or animal hospital.
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