Feb 13, 2021
Chocolate—a product prepared by processing the seeds of Cocoa tree, is the most popular flavor worldwide; because of its rich and indulging taste, and melt-in mouth texture. People round the globe enjoy gorging on chocolates, be it in form of chocolate bars; or blended as a flavoring agent in cakes, pastries, ice-creams, puddings, truffles etc. Although it is devoured and loved by all age groups, it isn’t something that should be shared with pets. All kinds of chocolates are potentially toxic for dogs (and cats!), to a greater or a smaller extent!
Before we get into the discussion about types of chocolates and how they impact dogs, let me first walk you through how chocolates are prepared, and which components of chocolates causes toxicity in dogs.
The typical chocolate flavor that we love to indulge in basically comes by fermenting the cocoa seeds under banana leaves for about a week, hence forming chocolate liquor. These seeds are then roasted, pulverized, pressed to remove the oil present in seeds (which is called cocoa butter), and then tempered to give the final touch. At this stage various ingredients are added to make different types of chocolates.
Considering that we already discussed that chocolates can be fatal for dogs, let us now see which components of chocolate can be harmful for them. Its ‘Methylxanthines’- a class of drugs. The most famous methylxanthines are ‘Theobromine’ and ‘Caffeine’- which are present in chocolates, where as to note— the former is present in larger quantities. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine, hence making it toxic. Chocolate has also made its way to the Top 10 Animal Toxins reported by Animal Poison Control Centre (APCC) of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The amount of theobromine present in chocolate depends up on the amount of chocolate liquor used in the product. And, the more the theobromine, worse it is for dogs! Apart from theobromine content, chocolate toxicity also depends on the amount of chocolate consumed as per the size and weight of the dog. About 9mg of theobromine per pound of dog’s weight can induce mild symptoms, and it takes about 18mg to induce severe symptoms.
Hereinafter are a few main types of chocolates and its possible effects on your canine friends:
The dark/bakers chocolate contains maximum amount of chocolate liquor, and hence it may contain highest theobromine (as much as 400mg per ounce) of all, and hence it can be the most toxic chocolate for your pooch. Consumption of this bitter chocolate in good measures may lead to dehydration, seizures, tremors, pancreatitits (a metabolic disorder), or even death in severe cases.
Milk chocolate is a solid chocolate made with cocoa, milk and sugar, and is most popular among all the chocolates. It contains about 45-60mg theobromine per ounce of chocolate, making it a little less harmful; if consumed in small amounts. However, its ingestion in small amounts may show symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, abnormal rhythms, trembling, etc.
White chocolate contains significantly lower amount of theobromine, yet it should be off- limits for your furry pal. It only contains 0.25mg theobromine per ounce of chocolate so it is the safest chocolate, but that doesn’t make it ideal for your dog to snack on. Moreover, other ingredients in white chocolate like high sugar and high fat content can also pose a threat to your beloved pet.
Cocoa powder is the raw material used to prepare most of the chocolate flavoured items, and may be easily found accessible on kitchen counters in most households. As you know it is a bitter powder due to its high cocoa content, it can be very poisonous for dogs. Cocoa powder contains as high as 800mg theobromine per ounce, and as little as a 5g dosage can be harmful for a 10 pound dog!
To conclude, all kind of chocolates are toxic to some extent; but then again, the level of toxicity depends on the concentration of theobromine ingested per pound of dog’s weight. A small amount of white chocolate may not cause any harm, but the same amount of cocoa powder or dark chocolate may put your pet in danger. Therefore, as a responsible pet parent, it is important to keep any type of chocolates beyond the reach of your furry friends.
Nowadays, Chocolate toxicity calculators are also available online which can help you gauge the severity of the case just by entering the amount of chocolate eaten by the dog and the dog’s weight.
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