Here at Cocoa & Heart we are a dog free house. In fact we don’t keep pets of any kind. But many of the students who come on our chocolate making courses have pets of their own.
And many are proud dog lovers. Although the courses require a fair amount of concentration there’s always plenty of time for a bit of social chat and we enjoy getting to know people and what’s important to them.
So when people talk about their pet dogs while on the course, one question usually comes to mind. Can dogs eat chocolate? Or, to put it more precisely, is it safe for dogs to eat chocolate?
When we’re teaching the art of chocolate making we always say that chocolate and water don’t mix well together. Well, it’s the same with chocolate and dogs, to a degree.
Give the wrong type of chocolate, in big enough qualities to a smaller enough dog, and it could be a recipe with potentially fatal consequences.
Let’s start by getting a little bit technical. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs. The actual amount of theobromide differs in the different types of chocolate (dark chocolate has the most in it and white chocolate, the least).
Here are some facts and figures about the different levels of theobromine present in different types of chocolate.
Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150 mg/kg bodyweight are toxic to dogs.
Approximate amount of theobromine in 25grams of chocolate.
- White chocolate contains minimal amounts of theobromine.
- Milk chocolate contains 44-64 mg theobromine
- Semi-sweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate contains 150-160 mg theobromine
- Unsweetened (baking) chocolate 390-450 mg theobromine
- Dry cocoa powder 800 mg theobromine.
For a medium sized dog (around 30kg bodyweight) medical advice is that there could be a fatal toxic reaction if they had eaten 1kg of milk chocolate, ½kg dark chocolate or 170grams of baking chocolate.
At the lower levels, signs of poisoning will range from vomiting and diarrhoea, to increase heart rate through to seizures leading to a fatal heart attack.
What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate?
Well, you probably need to save saying ‘Bad Dog!’ in a loud voice until later. But, chances are, you’re probably going to say it anyway, particularly if it’s just ransacked that box of Quality Street that you were saving for the weekend.
If you dog has raided the chocolate box and eaten all the dark ones, (as well as the rest) then take it to your vet. There is no antidote to theobromine, so the vet will probably make the dog vomit and try to wash out its stomach.
There’s a good chance that your precious pooch will survive but like your carpet it might be considerably the worse for wear. And as well as dry cleaning bills there’ll be the vets bill to pay, too.
That’s because most commercially sold chocolate just doesn’t contain enough theobromine in it to induce a possible heart attack if a dog does get hold of a bar or a bagor two of chocolate. Fortunately – for the dog at least – it’s not of a good enough quality to have immediate negative side effects.
So, what do we recommend?
Can dogs eat chocolate? No, not safely!
So, the best advice is not to give your dog any chocolate, no matter how sad it’s eyes may look or how appealing it may seem. Save it for yourself instead!
Chances are that you’ll appreciate it more and you can always work it off down the gym or with a work out tomorrow! Better still, buy or even better still, make some good quality dark chocolate yourself and sit down and savour that powerful all enveloping aroma.
You’ll enjoy it and if you still feel guilty – just give the dog a bone. That way you’ll both be happy. Oh, and if you can’t keep the chocolates away from the those with two hands, just make sure it’s well out reach of canines with four legs.