Owning a dog can be one of the most rewarding things in this world. His unconditional love and loyalty can reach even to the darkest hearts and transform them into real friendship.
Moreover, owning a dog can be extremely beneficial from many health points of view – they can help alienate depression, grief, loneliness, can increase creativity by stimulating the brain, can improve one’s self esteem and social skills, can help you lose weight and become more active, can be extremely helpful for blind people and, last but not least, can help children with autism live normal lives and even cure. Under these circumstances, no wonder that the dog has become man’s best friend for centuries and a true loyal companion.
Thus, keeping him safe, happy and healthy should be each owner’s number one priority. But, apart from love, sheltering, training sessions and a good night sleep, your dog also requires a balanced, strict diet.
Depending on the breed, the age and the size of your dog, they require less or larger amounts of food. Some dog breeds like bulldogs are prone to obesity, thus they should eat less and exercise more, while others, especially because they have a large amount of energy, like Golden retrievers, must eat more. No matter the case, keeping a balanced and healthy diet for your dog is the key.
However, there is a list of harmful ingredients that should be avoided at all costs to be fed to dogs. Here are the thoughts about chocolate:
Can dogs eat chocolate?
Chocolate represents one of the poisonous aliments for dogs and should never be used in their diets, let alone as treats or rewards. Although extremely healthy for humans and a rich source of energy, chocolate contains a poisonous substance for dogs, called theobromine.
However, the hazard of chocolate depends on the size, weight and breed of the dog, as well as the ingested quantity of chocolate. Bear in mind that large enough quantities of chocolate or any other cocoa-based products could even lead to dog poisoning and the death of your animal.
Why should you not feed chocolate to your dog?
As previously mentioned, chocolate contains a toxic substance for dogs, theobromine. Humans can easily metabolize this ingredient, but dogs tend to process is infinitely slower, allowing it to build up in chunks and become toxic in their systems.
There is no certain amount of chocolate that could kill your dog, as this entirely depends on the size of chocolate ingested, as well as its type, and the size of your pooch. Larger dog breeds can eat more chocolate than smaller ones before suffering from its downsides.
A small amount of chocolate such as a chocolate cookie, chip, a quarter of a chocolate bar or a chocolate sweet will not kill your dog, but will suffice to put it through a very upsetting diarrhea or bloating.
Ingested in large amounts (an entire chocolate table, a chocolate cake), depending on the size of your dog, the theobromine contained can lead to seizures, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeats and even a heart attack. Theobromine’s triggering point is when you notice your dog suffers from acute hyperactivity and cannot be compelled, controlled or tampered.
The best way to prevent poisoning with this substance is to induce vomiting within two hours from ingestion. If you think your dog might have ingested large amounts of chocolate or suffers from any of the aforementioned signs, call your vet right away.
Which type of chocolate is less poisonous?
Different types of chocolate and cocoa-based products have different quantities of theobromine. For instance, dark chocolates, cocoa and cocoa-based products (with at least 65% – 70% content) have the largest amounts of theobromine, meaning they are the most toxic for your dog. Milk chocolate and white chocolate, on the other hand, are less dangerous as contain the smallest amounts from this substance.
Studies showed that as little as an ounce of dark or bitter chocolate is enough to poison a dog weighting 44 pounds. Some specialists say that even the smallest chocolate cookie can cause diarrhea and health problems to a small dog, while a bag of chocolate chips can really hurt a massive dog.
How much theobromine does each type of chocolate contain?
- White chocolate is by far the most dangerous, because its theobromine levels can vary greatly. While it should not naturally be present in white chocolate, some chocolate brand producers deliberately inject their products with theobromine so that they can have similar hyperactivity and energy results like milk or dark chocolate. This is why, unless you are certainly sure where your white chocolate comes from, you should avoid feeding it to your dog.
- Milk chocolate generally counts for 44 – 46 mg of theobromine per kg. However, similar to white chocolate, some brand manufacturers could artificially increase the levels of theobromine in their products to lead to similar neuronal excitation as dark chocolate.
- Sweet dark chocolate contains up to 160 mg of theobromine
- Unsweetened chocolate or the one you use for baking contains 390 – 450 mg of the substance
- Dry cocoa powder can count for as much as 800 mg of theobromine, meaning it is the most dangerous and even lethal type to feed your dog.
Through simple calculations, we can have the following results: For a dog weighting around 30 kg, ½ kg of dark chocolate or the equivalent of 170 grams of baking chocolate would be enough to kill him. For the same dog, 200 grams of milk chocolate would be enough for him to have diarrhea or even endure vomiting.
The health problems rapidly increase along with the quantity of ingested milk chocolate, meaning that ½ kg of milk chocolate will lead to severe cardiovascular problems, while 750 gram of the same chocolate may lead to seizure.
However, these results are approximate and you should not wait until your dog eats large amounts of chocolate to induce vomiting or call your vet.
While there are thousands of healthy and nutritious aliments for your dog, chocolate is not one of them. Sure, your dog can pretty much eat anything you eat too, but in adequate amounts, excepting neuronal boosters like chocolate or caffeine-based products. Extremely salty, spicy or sweet ingredients, along with milk and dairy products should also be avoided if you care about your dog’s health.
Never learn your dog with sweet rewards as they will only make your dog more agitated. In return, choose small amounts of fried meat or a fresh veggie he likes. Keep your dog away from any type of chocolate and immediately call your vet if you notice anything strange or unusual in his behavior.