When it comes to foods that are toxic to dogs, almost everyone automatically thinks of chocolate. As dog owners, we are all extremely careful about leaving chocolate out of reach. Many of us have had a panicked moment when our dog has gotten ahold of a stray M&M, or worse, walked in to find our dog ears deep in a chocolate cake the cat helped them knock to the floor.
With all the varieties of chocolate out there, you may be curious if all of them are equally dangerous. Or if you have a dog with cracked paws, you might be curious if your cocoa butter lotion is safe for them to use. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about dogs and chocolate.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?
Part of what makes chocolate so appealing to people is a natural stimulant called theobromine. Dog bodies do not process theobromine as quickly as human bodies which makes them more sensitive to the effects. In dogs, a large dose of theobromine causes:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
The effects of theobromine depend on how much chocolate your dog has eaten. A toxic dose of theobromine is 100/200mg per kilogram of body weight. A toxic amount of chocolate depends on the size of your dog versus how much chocolate they have consumed. Figuring out just how much your dog has ingested also means that you need to know the type of chocolate your dog has eaten, since the closer to pure cocoa the chocolate is, the more theobromine it contains.
Treatment for theobromine toxicity can require induced vomiting, fluids, activated charcoal, and possibly, an overnight stay at the vet’s to help remove the toxins. A vet won’t automatically jump to extreme treatment, since the effects depend on the dose, but they may still want you to bring your dog into the office.
All of the fat and sugar in chocolate can also cause some unpleasant side effects. Your dog could experience vomiting and diarrhea. If they have a very fragile digestive system, they could even develop pancreatitis. This does not mean you need to panic if your dog finds a stray chocolate chip on the floor. This is such a low dose, most dogs won’t have any effects at all. But as always, consult with your veterinarian in order to make the best decision for your dog.
Types Of Chocolate
The differences in chocolate varieties are based on how close they are to being pure cacao. Dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate have the highest levels of theobromine because they are the closest to pure cacao. And European milk chocolate has higher levels of theobromine than American milk chocolate.
When it comes to chocolate toxicity, white chocolate does not count as chocolate. While your dog shouldn’t be snacking on it because of all the fat and sugar, the amounts of theobromine it contains are almost non-existent. This is because it contains no chocolate solids.
Cocoa butter is also almost completely free of theobromine. In fact, you can even find it in balms for cracked paws and shampoos and conditioners made just for dogs.
However, this doesn’t mean you can use your cocoa butter lotion on your dog’s feet. Human products may contain other ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
Keeping Your Dog Safe From Chocolate
Since your dog won’t listen when you say chocolate is bad for them, it is up to you to keep the chocolate out of reach. If you enjoy having chocolate at all times, place it somewhere your dog can’t get to it. If you have a cupboard-opening or counter-climbing dog, you may need to get creative or invest in child locks.
If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate, stay calm and gather information so your vet can help you. You need to know about how much they ate, how long ago your dog ate the chocolate, the type of chocolate, and your dog’s approximate weight.
If your dog got into chocolate and you weren’t home, watch for vomiting, drooling, pacing, panting, shaking, or even just behavior that seems “off”. Symptoms of a toxic dose of chocolate usually start about 6 to 12 hours after eating, and if your dog is showing symptoms, they need immediate treatment.
Dog Safe “Chocolate”
While dogs may not be able to eat chocolate, they certainly love the smell. Who wouldn’t? You can treat your dog to the smell of chocolate without the danger of theobromine. You can buy your dog a scented spray for after a bath. Or you can burn a chocolate scented candle, so you can enjoy the smell of baking chocolate without worrying about where you’ll store the chocolate baked goodies.
Fido Fizzies Hot Cocoa Bath Bomb (found in the Heart Melts Hot Cocoa Gift Set) is perfect for fall with its delicious toasted marshmallow scent. Like all of our bath bombs for dogs, it contains only dog-safe ingredients and therapeutic-grade essential oils. Your dog will enjoy a luxurious bath experience, and you’ll love the way your dog smells and feels.
Can’t resist getting your dog a chocolate morsel to munch on? You are in luck! You may have seen dog treats that look like chocolate bonbons in your local pet store. These imitation chocolates are made with canine safe carob. Carob comes from the pod of the carob tree and is naturally sweeter than chocolate. You can even share a handful of carob chips with your dog since it is also safe for people and often used in healthy human desserts.
If you want to drizzle carob on your next batch of homemade dog biscuits, you can buy it as chips or a powder. Carob doesn’t just make for dog-friendly sweet treats. It also contains fiber, calcium, magnesium, protein, and iron. So with a little carob addition, your dog will be getting extra nutritional benefits!
Reminder: Just because your dog can’t eat that slice of chocolate cake or sip that decadent hot cocoa doesn’t mean they can’t join in on the fan. Snag them a Hot Cocoa Bath Bomb, grab a chocolate-scented candle, and pick them up some dog safe carbo treats, and they’ll be in a (totally healthy) chocolate coma in no time!