Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Evan. Evan Wonders, “Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Evan!
Do you have a dog? If you do, you're really lucky! Why? Because dogs are man's best friend! Their loyalty is unmatched in the animal world, and they are faithful companions who will stand by your side through thick and thin, year in and year out.
Most people who live with canine companions enjoy sharing their lives with their furry pals. If you go for a walk, it's fun for Fido to join you. If it's nap time, there's no better napping buddy than Spot.
Of course, from your dog's perspective, there's one human activity that he probably enjoys participating in more than any other. What's that? Well, it goes by many names, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, and midnight snack time!
Like humans, dogs love to eat. And most of them like to eat more than just the dry kibble you might give them at dinner time. Dogs are usually more than happy to help you clean your plate, whether you're eating juicy hamburgers or steamed broccoli.
Veterinarians will usually caution you to limit the amount of human food you give to dogs. Dog food is specially formulated to give dogs the nutrition they need. Moreover, some human foods simply aren't good for dogs to eat.
For example, when you're eating that delicious chocolate bar, don't give in to your dog's pleading eyes and whimpering whines. Although your dog might wish to partake of that sweet chocolate, it could be a deadly treat.
So what is it about chocolate that makes it potentially toxic to dogs? Many people believe that it's because chocolate contains caffeine. While chocolate does contain very small amounts of caffeine, it contains another similar substance that's the real problem: theobromine.
Theobromine is an alkaloid that acts as a stimulant like caffeine does. Dogs, however, don't have a specific enzyme that humans use to break down theobromine. As a result, theobromine can overstimulate the central nervous and cardiovascular systems in dogs, leading to increased blood pressure, vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pains, seizures, and even death.
Whether or not eating chocolate will harm your dog depends upon several factors, including the type of chocolate eaten and the size of your dog. In general, larger dogs can eat larger quantities of chocolate without incidents, while even a small quantity of chocolate may affect a very small dog.
Certain types of chocolate contain more theobromine than others. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it will have. White chocolate and milk chocolate contain the least theobromine. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, has about three times more theobromine than milk chocolate does.
Two types of chocolate to be especially aware of are baker's chocolate and cocoa powder. Baker's chocolate has about three times more theobromine than dark chocolate, and cocoa powder has almost twice the theobromine that baker's chocolate has.
What does this mean practically? For an average 16-pound dog, it would take one pound or more of milk chocolate to reach a toxic level. That same dog, however, could only eat one ounce of cocoa powder before reaching a toxic level. The bottom line is that you should never feed your dog chocolate and, if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian right away!