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How much chocolate is toxic to a dog

Many dog owners give in to the temptation and the pleading gaze of their four-legged friends and let the dog snack treats off the table. However, what is partially harmless can have life-threatening consequences in terms of chocolate.

Why are dogs not allowed to eat chocolate?

The cause of the intolerance is the substance theobromine contained in cocoa and thus also in chocolate. Theobromine to the group of methylxanthines. The caffeine-like substance is broken down very quickly in humans with the help of an enzyme and excreted again.

Dogs, on the other hand, lack this enzyme, which is why theobromine is degraded very slowly in them. So for humans completely harmless, chocolate can trigger a number of symptoms for dogs, which in the worst-case end in death.

The dog has taken chocolate: symptoms

Symptoms of such poisoning show up a few hours, up to half a day after the ingestion of chocolate. Digestive problems such as vomiting and diarrhea can occur. Similarly, the intake of chocolate can lead to strong squealing, an increase in heart rate, convulsions, violent tremors, and respiratory arrest. These symptoms are very non-specific and do not directly indicate theobromine poisoning.

Even the smallest amounts can cause problems in dogs, especially if they are taken regularly. Regular chocolate consumption can lead to chronic symptoms of poisoning. In dogs that have absorbed theobromine over several months, studies have shown fibrous changes in the heart and cardiomyopathy.

How much chocolate is toxic to dogs?

The dose makes the poison. As a rule of thumb for the content of theobromine, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa and thus theobromine is contained. Even in white chocolate traces can be found. However, the content of this dangerous substance is particularly high in bitter or block chocolate, which is often used for baking.

The lethal dose of theobromine for the dog is 300 mg per kilogram of body weight. A bar of bitter chocolate can contain up to 1,000 mg. A piece of chocolate would not harm a full-grown big dog at first, but can already lead to health problems in small breeds, puppies or sick animals. In small dogs such as Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus, eating half a bar of chocolate is already highly dangerous.

However, the intake of chocolate by the dog can also lead to illnesses without visible symptoms. For example, repeated administration of small amounts can lead to chronic heart disease. It is best not to feed any chocolates, even as a treat in between. Also, special dog chocolate from the trade should be dispensed with, as theobromine is also included here.

The dog has eaten chocolate: What to do in an emergency?

If the symptoms described occur or have even been observed as chocolate has been eaten, it is recommended in any case to present the animal immediately to the veterinarian and to point out theobromine poisoning and the type of chocolate eaten. The veterinarian can then assess the severity of the poisoning and, if necessary, take immediate measures to alleviate the symptoms and help the dog. The aim here is to reduce absorption in the intestine and to counteract symptoms. To save the dog this, chocolate should be kept inaccessible to the dog and not serve as a reward.

Avoid food leftovers

So make sure your dog doesn't eat chocolate or other sweets under any circumstances. This can cause serious health problems. It is also not recommended to reward the dog with all sorts of goodies or leftover food from the table. It is better to use a food that is optimally adapted to the energy and nutrient requirements of your dog. Here you can easily and quickly configure the optimal feed for your dog, either as pure dry food or as a mixed feed with wet food.

Delicate Temptation With Dire Consequences

The theobromine contained in the chocolate or in the cocoa bean is to blame. Depending on the type of chocolate, the proportion of theobromine varies. White chocolate is given as 0.009 mg/g, bitter chocolate can contain up to 16 mg/g, cocoa powder even up to 26 mg/g. A table (100 g) of bitter chocolate contains around 1,600 mg (i.e. 1.6 g) of theobromine.

In sensitive dogs, a dose of 90 to 250 mg per kilo of body weight can be fatal for the dog. With a consumption of 300 mg, the so-called 50 percent lethal dose has already been achieved. This means that half of all dogs die when this amount is taken up. This dose is already reached or exceeded with a bar of bitter chocolate if the dog weighs about 5.5 kilograms or less. Smaller dog breeds as well as puppies and young dogs are therefore particularly endangered.

But even much smaller amounts can lead to symptoms such as restlessness, nausea, convulsions, diarrhea, and fever. Deaths are mostly due to cardiovascular failure. In addition, the repeated feeding of smaller quantities is also problematic. Theobromine degrades very slowly in the body so that there can be accumulations in the blood.

Chocolate enjoyment usually becomes a problem when the dog secretly and uncontrollably sat around chocolate. Dog owners can prevent this by storing the sweets in such a way that the sweet darling can't steal anything. By the way, theobromine is completely harmless to humans.