Chocolate has long been on the list of food that you should keep far away from your dog. But how dangerous is chocolate actually for your dog? 

Today, the team at Steel City Emergency Vets is here with all the chocolate-related information you need. But we also know that emergencies happen. If you’re worried about your dog eating something they shouldn’t — or you experience a different type of emergency — don’t hesitate to stop by Steel City Emergency Vets in Birmingham.

Chocolate and Your Four-Legged Friend

Discovering that your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, like a leftover slice of chocolate cake, can make any dog owner panic. But you might also have seen your dog eat chocolate without experiencing any negative symptoms or problems.

That might leave you wondering if chocolate is actually as poisonous as everyone says. (The short answer: It can be.) But there are actually a few different elements that go into what makes chocolate toxic to dogs. 

Theobromine

First, it’s important to understand what chocolate is. Processed from the seeds of a cacao tree, chocolate contains caffeine and a chemical called theobromine, part of the methylxanthines family. When ingested by dogs, these methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, along with other more serious symptoms.

For humans, our bodies are able to metabolize the theobromine found in chocolate. But in dogs, they metabolize theobromine much slower which builds up toxic levels in their body. The greater the levels of theobromine, the more likely your dog is to experience tremors, seizures, or racing heart rate. 

The Size of the Dog

The dangers of chocolate also depend on the size of your dog. Larger dogs are able to consume more chocolate without experiencing the negative effects while smaller dogs can consume smaller amounts of chocolate with dangerous results. 

The Type of Chocolate 

The dangers to your dog also depend on the type of chocolate your dog ingests. In its purest form, chocolate contains high levels of theobromine. This includes chocolate products like cocoa powder (the highest), dark chocolate, semisweet, or unsweetened chocolate. But more refined chocolate, like candies or sweets, have a much lower amount of theobromine because they’ve been processed with other ingredients.

That’s why your dog might not experience any symptoms if they eat a chocolate bar made with milk chocolate or a chocolate bar with lower levels of theobromine.

Symptoms to Watch For

At Steel City Emergency Vets, we know that accidents happen. But there are certain signs you can watch for to see if you dog has ingested toxic chocolate and needs emergency assistance: 

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Racing heart rate
  • Excessive urination 
  • Seizing or tremor 

The signs can take a few hours to develop but can last for days. If you’re worried at all about something your dog has eaten, don’t wait. Take them to your nearby emergency vet!

Get Help From Your Birmingham Emergency Vets

In the end, however, it’s easiest and best to keep all chocolate away from your dog. But understanding how your dog processes chocolate, and which types of chocolates are the most dangerous, can help you ensure the safety of your dog. 

If your dog does ingest a large amount of chocolate, or you experience a different emergency, trust the team at Steel City Emergency Vets in Birmingham. Call us with any questions and stop by for our emergency vet services.