How Does Chocolate Affect Dogs?

Question: How Does Chocolate Affect Dogs?

Answer: We all enjoy chocolate; many of us eat it every day. But sometimes, our beloved canine companions will sneak some of our chocolate. We’ve all heard that chocolate can affect dogs badly, but is that really accurate?

Chocolate can indeed have severe consequences for a dog’s health, depending upon the size of the dog, how much chocolate the dog eats, and what type of chocolate is ingested. The darker the chocolate, the less a dog needs to consume for the chocolate to negatively affect him or her. And a larger dog will typically be less seriously affected by a given amount of chocolate than a smaller dog.

As far as the means by which chocolate affects dogs, the chief culprit in chocolate is one of a class of methlyxanthines, called theobromine, a molecule similar to caffeine. Like caffeine, theobromine acts as a stimulant. The theobromine in chocolate affects dogs in multiple ways, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and agitation. Larger quantities of chocolate can cause seizures, a racing heart rate, and/or heart arrhythmia, any of which can be life-threatening. Symptoms are not present immediately after the chocolate is eaten but usually appear some six to twelve hours after ingestion.

Unlike cats, dogs enjoy sweets, so the best way to prevent your pooch from being affected by chocolate is to keep the chocolate away from the dog in the first place! Remember that dogs can be very clever about getting any food that seems appealing, so don’t leave that plate of brownies on the kitchen counter or the dining room table.

If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, try to gauge how much was consumed, then contact your veterinarian immediately!! Do NOT wait for symptoms to appear! As with anything that affects dogs as a poison, there will be a better prognosis if the dog is treated early.