Tip – 20 – Dogs and chocolate cats and chocolate
Chocolate and dogs and cats
Dogs and cats must NOT eat chocolate. Although the reaction to chocolate varies from dog to dog based on the quantity eaten in relation to its size, chocolate is poisonous to dogs and it can be fatal. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to dogs. Chocolate should be kept away from dogs at all times because they often like and make off with foods that are sweet.
The amount of theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. From most to least here are some common theobromine laden chocolate types; Cocoa Beans – Cocoa Powder – Plain/Baking Chocolate – Dark Chocolate – Milk Chocolate – Chocolate Drink Mixes – White Chocolate.
The amount of chocolate that it takes to poison your pet depends on the type of chocolate eaten and the dog’s weight. White chocolate has the least amount of theobromine at 1 mg per ounce. Baking chocolate or cocoa beans have the highest. Baking chocolate has 450 mg of theobromine per oz; semi-sweet chocolate 260 mg/oz; milk chocolate, 60 mg/oz; and hot chocolate, 12 mg/oz. Here is a list of the most common sources of chocolate and the amount that leads to poisonous levels:
White chocolate: 200 ounces per pound of body weight. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause signs of nervous-system poisoning in a 20-pound dog, 125 pounds for a 10-pound dog.
Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of body weight. Approximately one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to the nervous system of a 20-pound dog; one-half pound for a 10-pound dog. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level. Keep in mind that the average chocolate bar contains 2 to 3 oz of milk chocolate. It would take 2-3 candy bars to produce toxicity in a 10 lb dog.
Sweet cocoa: 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight. One-third of a pound of sweet cocoa is toxic to a 20-pound dog; 1/6 pound for a 10-pound dog.
Baking chocolate: 0.1 ounce per pound body weight. Two one-ounce squares of bakers’ chocolate is toxic to a 20-pound dog; one ounce for a 10-pound dog.
Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, excess urination, nausea, seizures, irregular heartbeat and coma. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of ingestion but can take up to 36 hours. If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, rush it to an animal hospital or veterinarian immediately. The best diagnoses come from pets who were brought to the vet early.
Although chocolates are equally bad for cats, cats are finicky and many cats won’t eat it. If your cat does eat chocolate though, treat the situation as life threatening. Cats are small and it takes less chocolate to kill them.