Chocolate is a friend to most humans, but not really to dogs. Vomiting, panting, trembling, the symptoms generated by chocolate poisoning in dogs are far from the pleasure it provides to humans. The toxic dose depends on various parameters such as the type of chocolate, the dog’s weight, and even its breed. Note that for the same dose, some dogs will present numerous symptoms while others will not show any. An antidote? Unfortunately, there is currently none. So, the only thing left to do is to keep your chocolate supply out of your dog’s reach!

Why is chocolate toxic for dogs?

What substance makes chocolate toxic for dogs?

If chocolate is at the top of the list of the six toxic foods for dogs, it is mainly because of theobromine. This substance is present in cocoa and more precisely in cocoa husks. It acts on the nervous system, the cardiac muscle, the bronchi, and the amount of urine excreted. Theobromine quickly diffuses into the body, so action must be taken very quickly!

What dose of chocolate causes symptoms in dogs?

The toxic dose corresponds to the dose of ingested theobromine that causes symptoms. It is estimated that the first symptoms appear from 20 mg/kg of the animal’s weight. But the concentration of theobromine depends on the type of chocolate. Dark chocolate being much more concentrated in theobromine than milk chocolate, it is much more dangerous! To better understand, here are some numbers.

The toxic dose of dark chocolate is:

  • 45 g or 9 squares for a 20 kg dog;
  • 25 g or 5 squares for a 10 kg dog;
  • 12.5 g or only 2.5 squares for a 5 kg dog.

Attention! The equivalent number of squares is an estimate assuming that one square weighs 5 g. However, depending on the type of bar, this value may vary. Moreover, we have only used chocolate bars as an example, but cocoa powder is equally dangerous. The toxic dose is estimated at 5 g for a 10 kg dog and 10 g for a 20 kg dog.

Therefore, be careful with chocolate in all its forms.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs?

Since theobromine acts on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, the first manifestations are:

  • Thirst,
  • Vomiting,
  • Tremors or agitation,
  • Lethargy.

In the most severe cases, chocolate can cause cardiac disorders, coma, and even death. So, we cannot stress enough, never let your pet ingest chocolate.

Husky dog on an examination table

What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?

The first thing to do is to evaluate the amount and type of chocolate it has ingested. As we have mentioned previously, the concentration of theobromine is not the same for dark chocolate as it is for milk chocolate. Then, contact an emergency veterinarian who will tell you what to do.

Is there an antidote for chocolate?

No, unfortunately, there is currently no antidote to treat dogs poisoned with chocolate. However, veterinarians have solutions that limit the absorption of chocolate in the animal’s body, such as activated charcoal and fluid therapy (perfusion to eliminate theobromine in urine).

Additionally, medications are used to treat symptoms of intoxication. For example, analgesics for abdominal pain, valium for hyperexcitation, or even seizures.

The veterinarian adapts their treatment based on the animal’s reaction, as not all dogs react in the same way.

Are certain breeds more at risk?

Yes, all dogs are not equal when it comes to chocolate (just like humans!). Among them, brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flattened faces) such as Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pugs, etc. These animals are predisposed to respiratory problems, so they may react poorly in case of symptoms such as an acceleration of the respiratory rate.

Dogs suffering from heart, liver, or respiratory diseases will also be more sensitive to the effect of theobromine on their organism.

Pug dog with a sad look

Are cats also sensitive to chocolate?

Yes, absolutely. Cats react in the same way and in the same proportions as dogs, with one detail: felines are much less tempted by sweets. Chocolate intoxication in cats is therefore much less frequent than in dogs, but one must still remain vigilant.

What about white chocolate?

You’ll notice that white chocolate doesn’t feature in this ranking. Why not? Quite simply because it contains an infinitesimal amount of theobromine. So apart from the fact that white chocolate is not recommended for dogs for nutritional reasons, it is not as toxic as its distant cousins, dark and milk chocolate.

This article might also interest you: Can dogs eat figs?