It happens to the best fur parents – you walk into a room and you see an empty box of chocolate donuts and an extremely guilty looking pup.
Now we all know that chocolate is extremely toxic for dogs, but we don’t know how poisonous chocolate donuts are for them.
Is this an immediate trip to the emergency room situation or does it make more sense to call your vet and ask what needs to be done first?
Let’s try to understand the degree of danger when your dog eats a chocolate donut.
What is the size of the dog and the size of the donut?
When it comes to chocolate toxicity, size matters. Studies show that dogs start to show symptoms when they eat 20mg of dark chocolate for every kilogram that toe dog weighs, such as vomiting (which can have blood), diarrhea, hyperactivity, and seizures.
Let’s consider the size of your dog. If you have an adult male Golden Retriever weighing about 32kg and your donut is roughly 24g, with 4g of cocoa going into each donut plus 10g of semi-sweet chocolate for the glaze. With a total of 14g of chocolate going into the donut, your dog isn’t really going to be in big trouble, but it won’t hurt to keep an eye on him anyway.
On the other hand, if your Mini Pinscher that weighs 4kg ate a full box of chocolate glazed donuts, call your vet directly.
What are the main ingredients in a chocolate donut?
Most donuts are generally made up of sugar, fat and chocolate. The only ingredients you need to watch out for is the cocoa powder for chocolate donuts, and the chocolate glaze that is used for topping a lot of different donut flavors.
How can sugar affect a dog?
Basic household granulated sugar is not great for dogs but it’s not toxic either. That being said, it’s generally a bad idea to feed your dog sugary treats like candy or muffins, because it can lead to an upset stomach and even diabetes.
What’s toxic for them, however, is xylitol which is an artificial sweetener that’s found in sugar-free treats. It can cause their blood sugar to drop at alarming rates and it can damage their liver too. Usually, dogs will accidentally ingest xylitol when they eat sugar-free candy but you might be surprised to know that some peanut butter have this sweetener as an ingredient too. Be sure to read those food labels before feeding your dog any human food for treats.
How can fat affect a dog?
There’s a common myth among dog owners that eating fat is bad for your dog, but the truth is that both too much and too little fat can hurt your dog. Your dog usually needs a certain amount of fat as part of their diet, which you’ll see on dog food labels. On the other hand, if you’re feeding your dogs fatty treats, then that could mean that they’re eating too much fat, which can lead to obesity or even pancreatitis.
Generally, if you are feeding your dog a high quality dog food, they’re getting a balanced diet with all the nutrients and minerals that they need, fat included.
How can chocolate affect a dog?
There’s a good reason why a lot of fur parents and veterinarians are very severe in saying that chocolate is poisonous for dogs. Given enough chocolate, your dog can have seizures, a heart attack, internal bleeding, and could even die. That’s because chocolate contains the substance theobromine which dogs don’t process very well.
In case you’re wondering, a significant amount of theobromine can be found in the cacao plant which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Cocoa powder also has this substance in high amounts. The purer the chocolate is, the more theobromine it contains.
This means that the type of chocolate matters. Because dark chocolate has more cocoa in it than milk chocolate or white chocolate, it’s a lot more dangerous to dogs. With as little as 11g of dark chocolate, a 3kg Yorkshire Terrier can start to show signs of toxicity but it would take about 22g to get the same effect with milk chocolate, twice the amount.
Aside from theobromine, chocolate also contains caffeine which is also bad for dogs, if not completely deadly. So why don’t human beings suffer the same fate when we’re eating chocolate? People are lucky enough to metabolize theobromine faster than dogs so it doesn’t get a chance to build up toxicity in our bodies. And with the amount of coffee we drink, we are clearly more tolerant of caffeine.
But just to be clear, how much is too much when it comes to dogs and chocolate? We mentioned earlier that a dog can start to show symptoms of toxicity with eating as little as 20mg of dark chocolate. These symptoms can get more severe if you increase the amount of chocolate that your dog ate to 40mg to 50mg for every kilogram they weigh. If they ingest more than 60mg for every kilo they weigh, they will start to experience seizures and could die. That’s milligrams, not grams, so it doesn’t take a lot of chocolate to make your dog very, very sick.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?
Depending on the amount of chocolate that your dog ate, they could show signs of restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, diarrhea, and they might pee more. With more chocolate in their system, the symptoms will escalate to vomiting, seizures, cardiac arrest, and they could collapse and die.
How can you help a dog with chocolate poisoning?
If your dog is showing signs of chocolate toxicity, it’s best to call your vet right away (or a pet poison hotline if you have one) or to head to the nearest veterinarian. As with any case of poisoning, even pet poisoning, the treatment is always less invasive and more effective if you can start as early as possible. If you wait for things to get worse before seeking help, the treatment could be more expensive and more stressful for your pet.
How would vets treat a dog with chocolate poisoning?
The treatment for chocolate poisoning for dogs depends entirely on how soon you can bring your pet to the vet. If you are able to bring your dog during the early stages of toxicity, the vet can treat your dog by giving them medication to induce vomiting and also by giving your dog activated charcoal which will help block theobromine from getting absorbed into your dog’s system.
If your dog is already late in the stages of toxicity, their stomach may have to be pumped. They will then administer fluid and IV drugs in addition to the active charcoal treatment for your pet.
How to prevent dogs from eating chocolate donuts
The best way to prevent your dogs from eating chocolate donuts is to not give him any. Also, it’s best to not leave the chocolate donut box lying around where your pets can grab them. If you’re going to rely on your dog’s discretion and ability to resist sweets, all hope is lost.
Why do dogs like eating chocolate donuts?
Because, let’s face it, chocolate donuts taste great, like all sugary treats do. Dogs also have a natural affinity for liking sugar and are actually a lot like people in that regard. However, sugary treats can be bad for your dog, even without the chocolate. It can mess up their metabolism, give them cavities, make them obese, and even cause diabetes.
The temptation to give your dog human food as treats is always tempting but you’re doing them a lot of harm in the long run when you do. It’s always best to stick to doggie treats for your pet and to high quality dog food as well. Giving them the well-balanced diet that good dog food can deliver will help prevent a lot of health problems in the future, like arthritis, liver issues, and pancreatitis.
Chocolate toxicity in dogs is never to be taken lightly, and even the smallest amount of chocolate ingested by your dog should be a cause for concern. Depending on the size, you can either continue to observe your dog or call your vet for advice. If your pet starts to show signs of toxicity, it’s always seek immediate treatment and to take your dog to the vet.