Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?

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Introduction

You probably know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but did you know it's poisonous and possibly deadly if your pooch has too much? While a lot of our articles are pretty tail-waggin' and jolly, this is an important topic we want to be very clear on - dogs cannot eat chocolate! 

In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can potentially kill your dog. Chocolate contains a toxic component called theobromine that dogs are not able to process quickly, allowing time for dangerous levels to build up in their system. 

While there are a lot of factors that go into how your dog will be affected by chocolate - like his size, the amount of chocolate, and the type of chocolate - if you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate, take him to the dog-tor immediately! 

Introduction of Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?

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Signs That Your Pooch May Have Eaten Chocolate

If you're suspicious that your pup has got into chocolate but you're not quite positive, make sure you're looking out for the tell-tale signs of poisoning. While dogs can't tell you whether or not they're suffering from chocolate ingestion, the will be able to give you a few signs with their body language and behavior to let you know that something is wrong.

For starters, keep an eye out for crumbs all over the floor, wrappers, and missing chocolate - that's your first hint. 

Some pups will show symptoms as well, so keep an eye out for digestive irregularities like vomiting, diarrhea, and loose stool. Other dogs might be excessively thirsty and unable to stop drinking water. Some may experience other symptoms like muscle rigidity, agitation, hyperactive behavior, excessive panting, pacing, seizures, and other odd behaviors. 

Body Language

If you think your dog's gotten into the chocolate, make sure you're watching out for some of these body language cues from your pup:
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Weakness

Other Signs

Those aren't all the signs you should be on the look out for. There are other body language cues, as well, including:
  • Severe hyperactivity
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Vomiting
  • Nauseau
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart attack
  • Internal bleeding
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures

Chocolate's Harmful Effects on Dogs

History of Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
It's been widely accepted and proliferated by veterinarians everywhere that chocolate is toxic for canines and that eating it can lead to pain, complications, and even death, depending on the amount ingested. 

In many case studies throughout history, dog's have been proven to be unable to digest a chemical in chocolate called theobromine. According to vets, the caffeine in chocolate is also harmful to pups. In various case studies throughout the past few decades, vets explain that canines who eat chocolate are at risk of dying because of both the alkaline theobromine and the stimulent caffeine. 
According to a case study that examined a 4-year-old Labrador who had eaten Easter chocolates, the dog vomited a small amount of brown liquid, was visibly shaking, and was restless with rigid muscles. Vets found that these were all symptoms of chocolate toxicity and were able to diagnose and remedy the problem, all while proving that chocolate is a toxic substance for pups.

The Science of Chocolate Toxicity

Science of Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
There are a lot of things you can share with your dog off your plate, but chocolate certainly isn't one of them. While humans are able to digest the complex chemicals in chocolate, dogs' systems simply aren't set up to handle those chemicals. 

The two most troublesome, and toxic, ingredients in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. The toxic components are too hard for dogs to metabolize and digest, making it a slow process that allows time for toxic levels to build up in their systems. 

Additionally, caffeine is a stimulant that could make your dog's heart race and give him seizures. 

Both the size of your dog and the type of chocolate (and the amount) matter. Different kinds of chocolate contain different kinds of and amounts of theobromine. A giant dog can handle a touch of chocolate, but tiny dogs are more susceptible to poisoning from small amounts of chocolate. All in all, make sure you take your pup to the vet, or give them a call if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.

How to Train Yourself to Keep Chocolate From Your Dog

Training of Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
It's hard to train dogs to stay away from food - eating is pretty natural for them, and with their iron stomachs, it's hard to keep them away. There are things you can do to make sure your dog avoids chocolate and ways you can train yourself to keep it out of his reach! 

For example, make sure you're always putting chocolate away from your dog's reach - keep this especially in mind around holidays when the treats are a-plenty. 

You can also teach your dog the command "leave it." If he accidentally does get some chocolate in his mouth, you can advise him to drop it and leave it alone, something that's been proven to save dogs' lives.

Another helpful training tip is to crate train your pup to ensure that he doesn't get into anything harmful while you're away. 

How to React if Your Dog Has Eaten Chocolate

  • Consult with vet about peroxide and charcoal methods
  • Keep an eye on your dog
  • If advised by your vet, induce vomiting
  • Rush your dog to the vet
  • Call your vet immediately to see what you can do