It is widely known that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The culprit is a chemical called Theobromine which acts like the drug “speed” in humans. It is a very strong stimulant that speeds up the heart, and if enough is ingested it can be fatal. Chocolate also has caffeine, which is also harmful, but not as much as theobromine.
What happens if my dog eats a chocolate chip?
If your dog were to eat a single chocolate chip, not much would happen. Depending on the size of the dog, he might get a slightly upset stomach or even vomit at some point. A dark chocolate chip would, of course, be worse than a milk chocolate one.
Types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine. A milk chocolate chip would have very little, and you would probably not see any reaction or result from your dog eating one. Dark chocolate has a lot more, and baker’s chocolate has even more.
A very small 10-pound dog might get a little sick. An 80-pound Labrador retriever probably would not notice any effect from a single chocolate chip.
The fact remains, however, that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and it will make them sick if they eat very much at all. There are also studies that show repeated exposure to even small amounts of theobromine, the culprit in chocolate, can eventually contribute to heart failure.
We get charged up with a little coffee in the morning. For dogs, caffeine is at least 10 times as strong. Theobromine takes it to a greater level. Because theobromine is not digested well, it ends up going through the dog’s system twice, so they actually get a double dose of what to them is a very strong chemical.
A single chocolate chip will make their heart go a little faster, might make them slightly dizzy, and will make them thirsty. You will likely not notice any difference. This lulls people into thinking that chocolate is not really all that bad for dogs. It might tempt people to let them have another chocolate chip or to let them have one now and then.
Chocolate is harmful though. It is not a good idea to let your dog have chocolate at all. The chocolate chip also has caffeine, sugar, and fat, which are all bad for your dog.
Of course, your dog wants some of what you are eating. You may be tempted, but remember it is poison to your dog. You are not being good to a dog by giving him a single chocolate chip.
Theobromine is the major culprit and can kill your dog. There are other ingredients in chocolate chips that are also bad, if not as fatal. Caffeine causes harm too, but not as much as theobromine. The two together make the dosage of toxicity even stronger.
Sugar and fat are also bad for your dog, and all kinds of candy have a lot of these two things. Almost all processed foods have fat and should not be given to your dog. They will cause stomach upset and can cause pancreatic problems over a period of time. The sugar is bad for your dog’s teeth, and unlike humans, dog’s teeth cannot be repaired or replaced. Sweets will also make your dog fat, and that is bad for your dog on many levels.
Any kind of chocolate, or any kind of sweet, is bad for your dog. Remember, you are not being good to your dogs by giving them even small amounts of these substances.
What to do if my dog eats a chocolate chip?
Realistically, if your dog happens to eat a single chocolate chip, there is nothing that needs to be done. Keep an eye on the dog for a few hours. You may need to let them outside more, and it is possible they could vomit or get some diarrhea.
Just monitor the dog’s condition and try to make sure the dog gets no more chocolate chips. Wait and see if your dog starts to develop any symptoms, and if the dog does, then call your vet. It is always possible that your dog has had more than one single chip if you happen to notice them with one.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning:
- excessive thirst and urination
- racing heart.
In extreme cases, your dog could have seizures, tremors, and ultimately, heart failure.
Your dog will not develop these symptoms from a single chocolate chip, but at some point, symptoms will start to show up. It can take hours for symptoms to emerge and they can last for days.
If your dog starts showing symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. Tell the vet what kind of chocolate was eaten, how much, and the weight of your dog. Your veterinarian can decide then whether the dog needs to be seen.
How much chocolate is too much for a dog?
Veterinarians and dog health experts say any chocolate at all is too much for a dog. While she won’t really be hurt by a single chocolate chip, it is still toxic to some degree and should be avoided. A single milk chocolate chip would have very little theobromine and would have no real effect. A dark chocolate one would have more of the chemical and be a little worse, but would still not likely cause any harm.
That does not mean it is OK to give your dog a chocolate chip. Repeated exposure to even tiny amounts can cause harm to your dog over the long term. Giving them just one would let them know how good it tastes. Dogs have tremendous noses and can smell things we cannot. Having one, and knowing the smell, might make them look for more when you are not around. That could have very bad effects if they find enough to be harmful.
Ten MGs per pound of dog will cause symptoms to develop. Twice that much could be fatal if not treated. It takes doing a little math, but it is possible to determine how much theobromine would be fatal to your dog. A 20-pound dog will get sick from 400 mg of theobromine, and 800 mg will cause it to get very sick and could be fatal. Caffeine is similar but not as dramatic.
Here is how much theobromine various types of chocolate have.
- one ounce milk chocolate chips – 44mg
- one ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips – 150 mg
- 1.5 ounces of chocolate pudding – 190mg
- one dark chocolate bar – 800 mg
- one ounce of baking chocolate – 450 mg
- one cup of baking chocolate – 1750 mg
- one cup unsweetened cocoa powder – 2256 mg
You can see then, a single chocolate chip would not have enough theobromine to have much of an effect on your dog. It is important to note that Theobromine stays in the dog’s system for a long time. A single chocolate chip every day would have a cumulative effect, and after several days, one chip would have a lot greater impact than the first one would have had. By the end of the week, for example, one chip would have the impact of seven.
According to the FDA, symptoms can become significant with 46-68 mg of theobromine per pound of dog. If a dog has more than 115 mg per pound, there is a 50 percent or more chance the dog will not survive even with treatment.
If your dog eats a chocolate chip cookie there is more likely that your dog will throw up at some point, or at least have an upset stomach. A big chocolate chip cookie could have enough theobromine to cause issues. An ounce of dark chocolate chips is enough to cause some symptoms.
A chocolate chip cookie could be enough to cause a small dog to get sick, so if that happens, it is a good idea to monitor the dog closely. It is not likely to make a big dog very sick, but it could cause some symptoms.
As always, if you are concerned, contact your veterinarian, but one single cookie probably will not cause serious health issues. You may need to let your dog out more. She may want more water and need to urinate more. That is a good thing as it will help flush out the system and get rid of the theobromine faster.
It will take five or six hours for symptoms to show up if they are going to show up at all. Once symptoms start, they can last a few days. One thing you can do is take your dog for more walks or let them outside more, which will encourage urination and help flush out their system.
What happens to the dog?
A chocolate chip cookie is going to have a greater effect on a dog than it will have on a human. Partly because we are bigger, and partly because we are not as sensitive to the theobromine that chocolate contains.
Once the theobromine kicks in, your dog’s heart will beat faster. If there was only a small amount ingested, the increase would be slight. The dog may notice the difference, but you will not be able to recognize it. The dog will pant more and become thirsty. The faster heartbeat will make the dog uncomfortable and he may become restless or agitated.
The faster heartbeat will last a long time as the theobromine stays in the system for a long time. It is also not metabolized well, and the dog ends up getting the effect of a double dose of the theobromine. If the dog eats 10mg of theobromine, it will have an impact of 20 mg. This becomes more significant if the dog has had more than just a little chocolate.
Beyond the toxic theobromine and caffeine, there is also the issue of processed food. The fatty materials are bad for your dog’s health. Giving them sweets will make them fat, which is not good for them over the long term. Sweets are also harmful to teeth. Dogs have trouble digesting processed food and fat, so it will cause stomach issues. Too much fat can cause pancreatic issues for your dog, which can shorten its life.
Keep in mind that you are not being good to your dogs by giving them chocolate at any level. Sugar and fat are also bad for your dog’s health throughout its life. Giving them such things could poison them in a fairly short time, and it will shorten their lives over the long term. Keep more healthy snacks available to give your dog if you want to give them something to eat. They will like that just as well, and it will be healthy for them.