Chocolate made for human consumption can cause death in dogs. Dogs are sensitive to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines. Caffeine and theobtomine are members of that family. Dogs simply cannot metabolise and excrete methylxanthines as efficiently as humans. The half life of those compounds in the human body is in the order of 2 to 3 hours, in the dog it is more like 18 hours.
In a dog the compounds are taken up by the liver and transmitted via the bile into the intestine. They are then converted back into the original methylxanthines for another circuit through the animal. This repeats itself a number of times and instead of getting rid of the substances the dog keeps repoisoning itself.
There are many formulations of chocolate with varying amounts of caffeine and theobromine. The lethal dose of sweet milk chocolate for a dog is 2 oz per kilogram of bodyweight. For a 5 kilogram dog this would be about 280 grams. A lethal dose of milk chocolate for a 25 kilogram would be about 1.4 kilograms.
Dark chocolate is at least 10 times as lethal. A 25 kilograms dog could die from the methylxanthines in 5 ounces.
Symptoms include vomiting, hyperactivity, restlessness, hypersensitivity to touch ( a dog will jump when touched very rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing rate. A loss of control of leg muscles, muscle tremor seizures, general weakness, coma and finally death follow.
In my humble opinion it would be a tragic mistake to encourage a dog to develop a taste for chocolate. A small dog left alone in a house with a box of chocolates might well follow his nose to the goodies and commit suicide by poisoning.
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
Dogs and Chocolates
by David the Dogman
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: www.thedogman.net. David has his own radio and TV shows, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. David has been working with dogs for many years and started his career in Israel, working on the Border Police. He has been involved in all forms of training, including air sea rescue, air scent work, and has trained dogs for finding drugs. David has devoted the past 10 years to studying behaviour and the very passive approach. He does not use choke chains, check chains, or any form of aggression.