Treating Your Dog to Chocolate

OK – we get it. Dogs really do understand that many human beings like chocolate almost as much as they like their canine companions. Combining those two loves also seems like a favorite bipedal pastime as I’ve truly lost count of how many furry pals I’ve met at the local doggy park that are named Hershey and Cocoa. Talk around the fire hydrant has it that you’ve even gone so far as to describe the coat color of some of my dearest friends as chocolate (although we dogs like to think of it as “liver”…..yum, yum!).

The Not-So-Delicious Dangers of Feeding Chocolate to Dogs

As much as my four-legged friends would prefer that I not tell you this – and, as much as I too would like to indulge in an occasional piece of luscious chocolate – there’s no sugar-coating the fact that chocolate in all of its heavenly forms can actually be toxic to dogs. And yes – I do mean toxic to the point of being deadly.

What kind of chocolate and how much, you wonder? Without getting too technical, it really depends on the amount of a caffeine-like, naturally-occurring compound that’s found in chocolate and that’s known as theobromine. If you’re wondering how I know all of this stuff, suffice it to say that – the one time I over-indulged in some chocolate that I found in my “hu-mom’s” purse that was on the coffee table – I got quite a bellyache and was begging for some reassuring head pats as she looked online for information about what to do for me. I learned a lot that day as I slobbered all over her iPad.

The bottom line is this. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are more dangerous to dogs than milk chocolate or white chocolate. Don’t forget though – cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, and anything made of chocolate can actually be toxic to dogs. That even includes cocoa bark mulch that’s now used in landscaping (something that we pups might have free access to and can smell a mile away; OK – maybe not that far, but you know what I mean).

Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much chocolate to make us ill to the point of vomiting or having diarrhea. Being a stimulant, larger amounts can literally cause our blood pressure and heart rate to rise and to possibly lead to tremors, seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.

While there is some level of variation, the general rule of thumb (although we obviously don’t have any) is that toxic levels can be reached if we eat 1 ounce of milk chocolate per 1 pound of our body weight, 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate per 3 pounds body weight, or 1 ounce of baking chocolate per 10 pounds body weight. If you’d like to play around with those numbers (although I’d rather you played with me), you can check out the Chocolate Toxicity Calculator that we have posted below. There’s also a really cool thing called an “application” (not like the one your people might have filled out to adopt you – this one is called “Om Nom: Can My Dog Eat it? OMG! My Dog Ate It”) that also has a built-in chocolate toxicity calculator. You can get more info about it here:

If you want to keep your sweet dog out of harm’s way, be sure to keep your chocolate stash out of our reach. And don’t be fooled if we bat our eyelashes to entice you to give us just a sliver of that delicious human treat that literally translates to mean “food of the gods.” As god-like as we pooches think we are, believe it or not, there really is such a thing as too much chocolate for us dogs.

If you want to treat us though – which we hope you do – feel free to feed us one of those carob-coated snacks that have specifically been made for us choco-craving canines. We promise that we’ll treasure it like it was the finest Godiva goodie ever made.

About Nanook

Nanook is our resident Siberian Husky, who lives for adventures in the great outdoors. Although just past puppy-hood, Nanook refuses to admit he has to grow up. He has agreed however, to provide us with some insights as to what dogs really like and how to make them tail-wagging happy.