One circuit around the Butler Hike and Bike Trail will tell you Austin is a dog-friendly town. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are approximately 193,600 dogs in Austin. That would mean roughly 50% of Austin households have a dog, which is right in line with the Austonian’s report that 40% of their high-rise residents are dog owners.
Canine companions can be seen all over the city accompanying their owners to retail stores, coffee shops and restaurants. However, you won’t find any dogs at Delysia Chocolate Culinary Center—for obvious reasons. While chocolate is a favorite food of most humans, it’s well known that it can be a serious health threat to dogs. But are the chocolate myths you’ve heard in the past really true? Are dogs allergic to chocolate?
Shedding Light on What Makes Dogs Allergic to Chocolate
Dog owners may not always see eye-to-eye on training, nutrition and attire for their canines, but we can all agree that they’ll never get a bite of our chocolate. We’ve all heard the horror stories of dogs that have died after eating just a small amount of chocolate. But in actuality, chocolate isn’t a death note in most situations.
What dogs are actually sensitive to is the methylxanthines in chocolate. More specifically, it’s the caffeine and caffeine-related theobromine that can do harm. Humans can easily break methylxanthines down, but for dogs it becomes a poisonous toxin once ingested.
The level of methylxanthines varies depending on the type of chocolate. A general rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate the more methylxanthines it contains. Here is a quick look at how the different types of chocolate compare:
- Cocoa Powder – The most toxic, severe even in very small amounts.
- Baker’s Chocolate – Highly toxic even in small, 1-ounce amounts.
- Dark chocolate – Moderately toxic, however the higher the cocoa percentage the more toxic it becomes.
- Semi-sweet Chocolate – Moderately toxic in small amounts of 1-ounce or more.
- Milk Chocolate – Mildly toxic in small amounts.
- White Chocolate – Not toxic at all.
As you may have guessed, the amount of chocolate consumed is also an important factor. For the majority of dogs, eating just an ounce of most chocolates will make them a little sick or not affect them at all.
Is Your Canine Companion More Susceptible to Chocolate?
In terms of chocolate toxicity in dogs, it’s a matter of size not breed. All dogs can be affected, but the smaller your dog is the more susceptible they are to becoming poisoned. It isn’t going to take much chocolate to make breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkies and Maltese severely sick. If your dog is under 20 pounds, always take immediate action if they’ve consumed anything more than one ounce of milk chocolate.
PetMD has a very useful toxicity meter for chocolate-loving dog owners. You can input the weight of your dog, type of chocolate and an amount to gauge how dangerous it is for your dog.
There’s no reason to make your home a no-chocolate zone. You can enjoy your decadent Delysia chocolates as long as your pooch doesn’t try to indulge as well.