“In all seriousness, is chocolate bad for dogs?” – boy if we had a penny for every time we’ve been asked this. And the short answer? Yes, it is. We answer everything from why is chocolate bad for dogs to what to do if a dog eats chocolate.
The science-y bit: Why is chocolate poisonous to dogs
If you’re a chocoholic, like myself, you may ask yourself “how can something as heavenly as chocolate be bad for my dog?” but the sad truth is that chocolate can be extremely toxic for dogs. But why is chocolate bad for dogs? It’s all thanks to a little ingredient found within chocolate known as Theobromine. Theobromine, is something that us humans have no trouble digesting, hence why it is safe for our consumption. However, dogs digest this component at a much slower rate, which makes them more sensitive to its chemical effects.
So, what does chocolate do to dogs?
Chocolate, or more specifically Theobromine, can cause your dog to suffer from ‘chocolate poisoning’. This poisoning can present itself in a number of ways, ranging in lethality;
- Vomiting & diarrhoea.
- Increased thirst.
- Panting or restlessness
- Excessive urination.
- racing heart rate
If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms above and you are aware of your dog eating chocolate, then consult veterinary advise immediately. Failure to address the above may result in more serious side effects such as muscle tremors, seizures and heart attack/failure.
Moreover, just because your dog isn’t exhibiting any of the symptoms above does not mean that they are not suffering from ‘chocolate poisoning’.
If your dog has eaten chocolate you must seek expert veterinary advise.
Help – My dog has eaten chocolate!
If a dog eats chocolate and does indeed suffer from ‘chocolate poisoning’ then symptoms should present themselves within 6 to 12 hours, however symptoms can be delayed to as long as 3 days after consumption. This is why we highly recommend a trip to the vet as soon as you are aware of your dog eating chocolate.
Getting a trip to the vets in early is not only important for your pet’s safety, but also makes treatment a lot easier whilst swerving those large veterinary bills.
Of course, in some cases, dogs will not suffer from ‘chocolate poisoning’. For the Theobromine to ‘take effect’ it is considered that a 5kg dog (such as a Chihuahua) would need to consume 25g of chocolate. This means that your Chihuahua would need to consume roughly 4 bars of standard milk chocolate to be in any real danger – however, we reiterate, that you’re best not pushing your luck as every dog reacts differently.
The no. 1 alternative (or, as we like to call it, ‘Doglate’)
Dog eaten chocolate in the past? Yep – well don’t worry about finding an alternative, we’ve already got one for you. In a dog eat chocolate world, we’re introducing the safe alternative, the mighty ‘Carob chip’.
Carob chips, like chocolate, are naturally sourced. Carob chips actually come from our friends in the sunny Mediterranean, and more specifically, from the carob tree. The fruit produced from this tree is dried, roasted and ground into a fine powder before becoming what we recognise as carob chips – cool right? The best bit – these funny little chips contain a beautiful sweet flavour that your pup will be sure to thank you for.
The Daily Puppy have actually produced a range of recipes including our favourite which we will definitely be trying out at home – you can read this here.
Oh and did we mention, carob chips make a great alternative to chocolate for health conscious humans too!
Other healthy alternatives
Ok ok, so not everyone is quite so fascinated by carob chips as me which is why we’ve made for you a list of other healthy alternatives;
- Cheese. I’m sure you’ve already discovered your dog’s obsession with cheese – just make sure this is done in moderation and to watch out for an intolerance to dairy.
- Crunchy vegetables. Crunchy veg might not seem like the most appetising snacks for your pet, but any human food is gourmet to your dog. Plus, they love the crunch!
- Coconut. Bit of a weird one, but coconut is actually great for dogs. Promoting health benefits such as boosting the immune system and contributing towards healthy skin… just watch out for that furry shell!
- Honey has near enough all the Vitamins you could ask for in it so this gets a big thumbs up from us. Moreover, honey can provide health benefits such as healing allergies and wounds.
- Peanut butter. Another fan favourite – peanut butter is super tasty for dogs and great source of protein. However, when choosing a peanut butter we recommend reading the label very closely. Some peanut butter (such as sugar free) contains a component called Xylitol which can be toxic for dogs, read more below.
- … and the wild card: Popcorn. Ok so who hasn’t been tempted to share snacks with their favourite movie night partner? Just make sure that popcorn is fully popped and plain and this should be safe for your dog (again, only to be fed in moderation – which means more for you anyway!)
Other bad stuff to watch out for:
Whilst we’re completely behind phrases such as ‘chocolate bad for dogs’ being plastered all over the net, we do believe that there are plenty of other culprits for causing dog’s grief;
- Grapes and dried fruit.
- Onions and garlic.
- Xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in ‘sugar-free’ snacks – therefore we would advise pet owners to read up before purchasing any snacks such as peanut butter.
- Additional toxins found in dog foods can be read about here.
Know of any other healthy snacks that your pup just can’t get enough of? Share your comments over on our Facebook page!