A Dog’s Limit for Chocolate
If you’ve ever read an Enid Blyton book as a kid, you’ve probably come across her characters feeding their dogs all manners of things. Their beloved canines would finish off all kinds of leftovers, ice creams, and chocolates. However, many of us may also have read that chocolate is toxic for dogs. Now, an author of children’s books back in the day may not have been expected to know this fact.
You should also remember that not everything that is poisonous is necessarily fatal to us. After all, how many of us haven’t suffered from some sort of food poisoning one time or the other? We’re still alive, though we may not want to eat the food that made us sick in the first place.
We’re sure the same goes for our dogs, especially those we keep as pets. Some of us may feel tempted to feed them chocolates from time to time. After all, it’s so good that we would want our best friend to have some, right? We may even find our pets begging for a taste and feel horrible refusing. This is why it’s necessary to know how much chocolate a dog can really consume without suffering. We want it to be well-fed but not at the risk of its health!
The Makeup of Chocolate
If your dog has consumed chocolate of any kind, be sure to take the packaging with you when you go to the vet. In case of any poisoning, an expert has to know just what the dog has consumed. This is essential because most of the chocolate we may have is not really pure, 100% dark chocolate but a sort of compound. The less cacao there actually is in a bar, the less chances of toxicity and the less need to make your dog throw up.
The Dog’s Size
What is poisonous for a child may only cause some vomiting and/or diarrhea in an adult. This parallel is similar in dogs, maybe even more so. Our canine friend could be a huge Labrador weighing close to a 70 pounds or a tiny Chihuahua less than ten pounds. A few milk chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t do a huge dog any harm. On the other hand, an exquisite dark chocolate truffle could be fatal for a tiny dog.
Zero Cacao Chocolate
There is actually such a thing as chocolate with absolutely no cacao in it. We know this as white chocolate. If your dog has consumed this, let it have it. White chocolate doesn’t really deserve to be called chocolate since the only part of the cacao bean it contains is the fatty solids. Some white chocolate is literally nothing but milk and sugar. While not the healthiest choice for a snack, it’s generally not toxic to dogs.
It would take a very large amount of white chocolate for a dog to need medical attention. This is close to fifty pounds for a ten-pound dog, a whopping 95 pounds for a twenty-pound one, and 145 pounds to put a thirty-pound dog in danger. Needless to say, there’s very little chance of this happening. If it ever does, the dog would likely be in danger of death by overeating.
However, if the chocolate consumed has around 85% cacao or higher, you have a problem. Not only has your dog deprived you of a high-quality chocolate experience, but it has put itself at great risk. This concentration of cacao means a high amount of theobromine along with a large serving of caffeine. The former is more toxic, but the combination of both can cause some issues in a canine host.
A dog owner should keep in mind that it’s not just the bars that the dog could consume if left unattended. It’s also the cocoa powder in your baking cabinet or some cacao beans that could be growing anywhere near your vicinity. Hence, you should definitely try to induce vomiting and/or rush to a vet with the packaging if your dog’s consumed any of the above.
For the record, 1.5, 3, and 4.5 ounces are a bad situation for a ten-, twenty-, or thirty-pound dog. Baking chocolate could be even more serious. Around half an ounce of baking chocolate is a dangerous amount for a dog weighing ten pounds, while a whole ounce is bad for a twenty-pounder. One and a half ounce is bad for a thirty-pound dog.
When a dog consumes milk chocolate, there’s a chance of high or low toxicity. This kind of chocolate may have a cacao content of as low as 20% or as high as 60%. Mass-produced candy bars and chocolate buttons would be at the lower end of this range, making them less healthy for people but also less toxic for dogs.
The higher end of this range is closer to bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. These typically contain 50% to 75% cacao. However, both milk and semisweet chocolate should be treated as the same if ingested by a dog. A ten-pound dog will be in danger if it consumes around 3.5 ounces of such chocolate. Similarly, 7 ounces and 10.5 ounces for twenty- and thirty-pound dogs are quite dangerous.
If you don’t have immediate access to a vet or aren’t sure if you should rush to one, toxicity calculators may come in really handy. These are easily available online and allow you to calculate the possible level of seriousness. They do this using the dog’s weight, the amount of chocolate consumed, and the composition of the chocolate.
Basically, around 20 mg of pure chocolate per pound in a dog is a cause for concern. The amount of chocolate and the possible level of toxicity are highly important when you’re headed to the vet. This could be the difference between severe and non-severe symptoms and affect the required treatment. It’s, hence, best to stay alert and gather what information you could so that you can help your dog in the best manner possible.