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Why you should never feed your dogs chocolate

A reader wonders if it's really bad for them ...


Chocolate is very poisonous to dogs

I have always been told that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Is this really true because I have 
a friend who often uses choc drops to reward his dog and has never found them to be a problem?

Toxic chocolate

is definitely poisonous to dogs and, in sufficient quantity, can cause death due to its toxicity. Chocolate and cocoa contain substances called methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine, that act 
as chemical stimulants.

Dogs — and some other animals including horses — can’t metabolise theobromine very effectively and as a result the chemical builds up 
in the bloodstream to cause, depending on the amount eaten, stomach upsets, an increased heart rate, severe diarrhoea, internal bleeding, seizures, fits and even death.

The effect and signs of poisoning in dogs depends on the type of chocolate, the amount eaten and the size of the breed. For instance, 200g of milk chocolate may cause a Labrador-sized dog to have 
a stomach upset, whereas a dog of the same size can be poisoned by as little as 15g to 20g of baking chocolate. In general, the darker, richer and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Any signs of toxicity will usually occur four to 24 hours after your dog has eaten it.

While normal chocolate can be toxic and harmful to dogs, there are specially formulated alternatives available and it is these that some dog food or treat manufacturers 
add to proprietary brands so that they 
cause no problem.

My advice is never feed a bar intended for human consumption to dogs, never leave it in a place where your dog could help itself and always ensure that any treats are safe before feeding them to dogs.

If your dog should 
eat chocolate, it is 
often difficult to know 
exactly how much and 
the amount of caffeine 
and theobromine it contains — sources can 
vary depending on 
growing conditions and 
variety — so it is always 
best to err on the side of 
caution and contact your 
vet for advice if you are concerned.