Chocolate in surprisingly small amounts can seriously affect your dog, and in some cases cause your dog to die. Small animal veterinarians are seeing increasing number of dogs with chocolate toxicity as more of us are eating the ‘healthier’ dark chocolate. Unfortunately your dog only needs to eat 1/3 as much dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate to become seriously ill. In this article I will show you why chocolate is toxic, the types and amounts that will cause poisoning, the symptoms of toxicity, and what you can do if your pet consumes chocolate.The toxic components in chocolate are caffeine and theobromine. The theobromine is found in high concentrations in chocolate, and causes most of the clinical signs in dogs. Theobromine affects your dog’s intestinal system, nervous system (brain), cardiovascular system (heart and lungs), and the kidneys.The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs are based upon the amount of chocolate eaten, the type of chocolate, and the time since it was ingested. The most common sign after your dogs eat chocolate are gastro-intestinal, meaning stomach upset, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. Not uncommonly you may see hyperactivity, restlessness, elevated heart rate and increased drinking and urinating. The most serious signs are when the nervous system is affected; these may show up as tremors, seizures, increased breathing rate, high body temperature ( hyperthermia) and coma.The toxic and potentially fatal dose of chocolate is 60mg/kg- so a 10lb dog only needs to consume 300mg of chocolate. Clinical Signs can be seen as low as 20mg/kg- meaning a small 10lb dog only needs to consume 100mg to have problems. Severe signs are seen at 40mg/kg- or consuming 200mg of chocolate.Let’s look at how much theobromine is in certain types of chocolate, then we can best know if you need to be concerned about chocolate poisoning in your dog if he has eaten some. A 5oz milk chocolate bar contains 250mg of theobromine, a dark chocolate bar contains 600 mg. Unsweetened baking chocolate contains 400mg theobromine per square, Semisweet chocolate chips (30 chips), 250mg. Dry cocoa powder contains 700 mg of theobromine per ounce.A poodle weighing 10lbs can be fatally poisoned by as little as one milk chocolate bar containing 250mg of theobromine. A 75lb larger breed dog, such as a Golden Retriever, would need to eat to eat 8 milk chocolate bars to become seriously ill. On the other hand, the dark chocolate and bakers chocolate are far more toxic; the 75lb Golden only needs to consume 3 of the dark chocolate bars to be fatally poisoned.If your dog eats any amount of chocolate, the first thing is to figure out how much has been consumed. Then based on the type of chocolate, determine if your pet has eaten a potentially toxic amount. If the dose of chocolate is 20mg per kg of theobromine or higher, you should be seeing your veterinarian and inducing vomiting, or doing this at home. So this means that if your 10lb (5kg) poodle eats a milk chocolate bar, then induce vomiting as he has eaten more than 200mg of theobromine. I have calculated this dose by multiplying the poodle’s weight of 5kg times the toxic dose amount of 20mg/kg giving a level of 200mg.The method I prefer to induce vomiting is by giving hydrogen peroxide at 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight. If your pet doesn’t vomit in 10 minutes, repeat again. I advise to never do more than 2 treatments of peroxide. You can also try salt: dilute 1 teaspoon of salt in a tablespoon of water per every 10lbs of body weight. If you are unable to induce vomiting, if your dog is showing any serious signs such as tremors, seizures, excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or you are at all unsure please see your veterinarian.You can now see how even a small amount of chocolate can cause serious problems to your dog. As a responsible dog owner, you should be aware of the types of chocolate, and the amounts of chocolate to cause poisoning in your dog. You should be able to recognize the symptoms of chocolate toxicity, and know how to induce vomiting if your dog is to eat toxic levels of chocolate.
Science has confirmed with many studies and research that eating chocolate is indeed healthy. Researchers have found that dark chocolate in particular has both emotional and physical health benefits when consumed in healthy portions. Chocolate has properties that increase mental awareness as well as a multitude of health benefits for our body. Studies have also shown that people who eat two to three chocolate bars a month live longer than those that don’t consume any chocolate.Researchers have found that consuming chocolate increases the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain indicating that this food has an antidepressant effect. Also, chocolate helps to decrease fat intake by curbing a person’s appetite for fats. In addition, one of the properties of cocoa is that it has the overall effect of decreasing appetite.The chocolate that is most beneficial to our health is dark chocolate. One of the main ingredients of dark chocolate is cacao that contains flavonoids, and these are an excellent source of antioxidants that protect our bodies from the effects of free radicals that can be very damaging.Unfortunately, we are always being threatened by free radicals from the air that we breathe and the different foods that we consume. Eating foods that have plenty of flavonoids also helps our immune system and helps the body fight diseases such as cancer, asthma, allergies, and type2 diabetes.The flavonoids that are found in Cocoa prevent harmful clots from forming that may cause damage to the heart and other areas of the body. These flavonoids also allow increased blood flow by aiding the blood vessels to dilate with ease. In addition, cocoa has properties that aid in the stopping the inflammatory process that can be very damaging to the body.Dark chocolate also helps your heart by helping your vessels retain their flexibility. And, it helps with your body’s blood circulation therefore improving your blood pressure levels. Also, epicatechin, a nutrient found in chocolate, helps to avoid heart attacks and strokes by relaxing and widening our blood vessels.Cocoa is known to reduce cardiovascular problems by increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. HDL is responsible for cleaning and removing the harmful fats from the body’s blood vessels.In fact, several years ago a study was conducted in Germany with over nine thousand participants, and it revealed that people who ate on an average more than seven grams of chocolate daily had lower risks of stokes and heart attacks, and they also experienced lower blood pressure levels.Cocoa and dark chocolate are also a good source for the fiber needs of our diet. And, believe it or not chocolate hardly contains cholesterol, and if it does it is because of the milk ingredients that are added. Chocolate is a food that is derived from a plant and plants do not produce cholesterol.Source of Vitamins and Minerals Dark chocolate is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It is full of magnesium and iron, and it also contains vitamin B that helps to boost your energy levels. It also contains copper and potassium that are important for maintaining good health.The magnesium levels that are found in a dark chocolate bar typically contain over 12% of the body’s daily requirement. This is important preventing chronic diseases like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular health problems.HistoryChocolate first appeared in the Mayan and Aztec cultures approximately 4000 years ago. The cacao plant is thought to have originated in the Amazon region and is the main ingredient in chocolate. According to Aztec legend their god Quetzalcoatl gave the cacao tree to the Aztec people. He taught them how to prepare the seeds by roasting and grinding them to form a paste that could be mixed with water. This mixture became known to the Aztec’s as chocotatl and they believed that it provided a person with knowledge and wisdom when consumed.Chocolate was introduced to Spain by the Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s. The Spaniards added different condiments and sweeteners to enhance its flavor. Chocolate was considered a delicacy among the wealthy and became the favorite drink in Europe until it was replaced by coffee and tea in the 19th century.In the twentieth century solid chocolate bars were introduced in Europe. At about this time the cocoa bean was discovered to have beneficial health properties, and that’s when the popularity for chocolate began to surge.Chocolate as Part of Your DietIf you are going to include chocolate as part of your diet, then what is recommended is dark chocolate. Eat the amount that is healthy for your daily nutritional needs. Whether you like your dark chocolate with nuts or just plain, dark chocolate is the best choice. Always try to avoid any fillings in chocolate, such as nougat or caramel, these fillings just add extra calories.The whole purpose of eating pure dark chocolate is for its health benefits aside from its delicious taste. A person should not consume more than three and a half ounces of chocolate per day. This is the recommended amount of chocolate to eat to be on the healthy side.And, just because you are eating chocolate does not mean that you are receiving its healthy benefits. Avoid consuming dark chocolate while drinking milk because this prevents the antioxidants from being absorbed by your body. There are also several types of chocolates that are not healthy for you because they’re loaded with fats and sugar.Here is a list of top quality dark chocolate bars:Dagoba Eclipse – 87% CacaoGreen and Black’s Dark – 85% CacaoValrhona Noir Extra Amer – 85% CacaoScharffen Berger Extra Dark – 82% CacaoChocolove XOXOX Extra Strong Dark – 77% CacaoChocolate is great to eat because of its health benefits and nutritional value, but like everything else if we consume too much of a good thing it can also be bad. So, the next time that you are eating a delicious dark chocolate bar think of all of the health benefits that you are receiving, but just remember to eat with moderation.