It is common knowledge that chocolate and dogs don’t mix. Even a small amount of chocolate, while not necessarily fatal, can lead to stomach upsets, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested by dogs. Generally speaking, larger dogs are less affected by chocolate compared to smaller dogs. However, large amounts of chocolate can result in seizures, irregular heartbeats, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, and heart attacks in dogs. These reactions can even lead to death.

Theobromine: Poisonous to Dogs

The component of chocolate that is toxic to dogs is called theobromine. Unlike in the human system, where theobromine can be broken down quickly, dogs process it slowly which leads to the build-up of toxic levels in their system. Theobromine level varies depending on the type of chocolate. The higher the levels of theobromine, the more toxic it becomes. Dark chocolate contains more toxicity than lighter chocolates.

White Chocolate

White chocolate has comparatively low levels of theobromine. However, you should still not feed white chocolate to your dog as the small portion of theobromine and the high level of sugar in the chocolates is still harmful to your dog. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea and possibly pancreatitis. However, your dog is not likely to suffer heart problems from consuming white chocolate alone.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is one of the most common types of chocolate consumed – especially on Halloween or Valentine’s Day. The level of theobromine in milk chocolate is low compared to the dark chocolates. However, large portions of milk chocolates could still have an adverse effect on your dog including a very upset stomach.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is the most harmful chocolate for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, even just small amounts ingested by your dog will cause severe effects including fast and irregular heartbeats, seizures, uncontrollable tremors, and even death.

Baking (Bitter) Chocolate

Baking chocolate is also very harmful to dogs due to its high levels of theobromine. This chocolate is mostly consumed in baked goods like cakes and brownies. Such treats should be kept as far away from your dog ass possible. Similar to the dark chocolate, bitter chocolate causes heart issues, tremors, and can be fatal.

Help, My Dog Ate Chocolate! Immediate Steps to Take

If your dog ingests a large quantity of chocolate, it is highly recommended that you call your veterinarian immediately or go to the nearest dog clinic. Do not wait to see the warning signs!

Most vets treat chocolate poisoning using fluids and some drugs. One of the drugs is known as activated charcoal. It prevents the chocolate from getting into your dog’s blood stream. Another drug used is apomorphine which forces vomiting in your dog. If absolutely necessary, you can also induce vomiting at home by feeding your dog a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide.