When you are eating a delicious bar of chocolate, and you find your puppy staring at you, it would be rather tempting to give it a bite. At that point, you might be questioning whether it is even safe for your German Shepherds eat chocolate or not, and the answer to that is a big fat no.
German Shepherds cannot eat chocolate as it is toxic for them and may even, in many cases, cause death. Do not feed your German Shepherd chocolate, especially if you have dark chocolate or unsweetened cooking chocolate. Theobromine, a compound found in chocolate, is poisonous for dogs.
Can your German Shepherd die if it consumes chocolate?
Chocolate, a very popular delicacy for human beings, is made from fresh cocoa beans taken out from cocoa pods of the Theobroma cocoa tree. You might have seen chocolate making appearances in countless desserts and drinks around the world. It is consumed in many delectable forms such as brownies, cookies, hot chocolate, cakes, etc.
As irresistible as chocolate is for humans, it is very poisonous for German Shepherds. Chocolate contains theobromine and a small amount of caffeine, both poisonous substances for dogs. These work as stimulants and speed up the dog’s heart rate, excite the nervous system and cause high levels of dehydration. All of these symptoms can lead to death.
Additionally, since dogs cannot metabolize chocolate through their systems, the toxicity level in their bodies increases. All of this puts your German Shepherd at an even higher risk of death. You might be wondering, “If I can easily digest chocolate and have a pleasurable experience eating it, then why is it so harmful to my dog?”
The theobromine content is three to ten times more concentrated in chocolate than in caffeine. Humans have a high tolerance for this ingredient, and our systems can easily digest it, but dogs cannot tolerate it. As a result, it becomes very poisonous for dogs to consume.
What amount of chocolate can kill my German Shepherd?
As we established earlier, chocolate is very toxic for dogs, and it is also important to know what amount of chocolate is mildly dangerous and extremely dangerous. If you find out that your dog has consumed an amount of chocolate while you were not supervising, you may quickly want to know whether it is a fatal issue or a lighter issue.
Firstly, you need to figure out the type of chocolate consumed. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous type as it has the highest concentration level of theobromine compared to its counters part, milk, and white chocolate. Then you need to know the weight of your German Shepherd.
For example, a small amount of chocolate, 20-30 grams, consumed by a grown-up German Shepherd will not pose a fatal threat. Your dog will only get dizzy, have diarrhea for a couple of days, and then get back to normal. But if a puppy consumes the same amount, it can lead to death.
The relationship between the amount of chocolate consumed and the German Shepherd’s weight becomes even more important because that is what determines the level of toxicity in your dog’s body. While veterinarians are still not sure about the exact formula that should tell how much chocolate is toxic, some data is based on past experiments.
If a dog has consumed 20 milligrams of theobromine for every kilogram they weigh, symptoms of toxicity start appearing. If the consumption has increased and reached 40 to 50 milligrams per kilogram of the dog’s weight, symptoms start severely.
As we know, Dark Chocolate is the most toxic type of chocolate; 3.5 grams of it per kilogram of the dog’s weight could lead to poisoning. If this amount of dark chocolate is consumed, your German Shepherd will need emergency treatment. Milk chocolate, which is less toxic than dark chocolate, could become poisonous if your German Shepherd has consumed 14 grams or more per kilogram of their weight.
Now that you know how much chocolate is toxic for your dog, it becomes important to know what types of chocolate exist and how much theobromine they contain. There are various types of chocolate; some of these are listed below, along with their theobromine content.
- Dark chocolate: this is the purest form of chocolate extracted from cocoa beans, and this is the second most dangerous type of chocolate for your dog. The theobromine content in dark chocolate is 300 milligrams per ounce.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate: This form contains 450 milligrams of theobromine for every ounce. This is considered the most poisonous form of chocolate for German Shepherds.
- Milk chocolate: This is a slightly diluted form of dark chocolate containing some milk powder and sugar. It contains 60 milligrams of theobromine per ounce. It can be poisonous for dogs if consumed in bigger amounts.
- White Chocolate: This is the most diluted form of chocolate; it is made with cocoa butter and has sugar in it as well. Even though it only contains 6 milligrams of theobromine per ounce, it can still be poisonous if consumed in very large amounts. Additionally, because it is extremely sweet, it has a high-fat content which could ruin your dog’s liver health.
- Semi-sweet Chocolate: It contains 260 milligrams of theobromine per ounce and is almost as toxic as Dark Chocolate.
We can conclude from the above types that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your dog. You may be tempted to give your German Shepherd a little bit of white chocolate as it is less toxic, but you shouldn’t. This is because white chocolate also has its fair share of disadvantages for your furry friend. Hence just keep all the chocolate away from your German Shepherd.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in German Shepherds?
If your German Shepherd has consumed chocolate in your absence, it is still not too late, and several symptoms can indicate chocolate poisoning. Even though these symptoms may become evident after a certain amount of time, you still don’t need to worry as there are emergency treatments that could save your dog.
Listed below are some of the symptoms which appear after your dog has consumed chocolate.
- Vomiting: German Shepherds cannot metabolize chocolate; hence as they consume it, their system will react by throwing it out from their bodies.
- Diarrhea: German Shepherds’ bodies cannot digest chocolate; hence they might get diarrhea.
- Panting: As theobromine combined with caffeine leads to a hyperactive nervous system in dogs, they might start panting.
- Abnormal heart rhythm: This also occurs as a result of a hyperactive nervous system
- Excessive thirst: The caffeine in chocolate causes severe dehydration in German Shepherds, which increases their thirst.
- Lethargy: The caffeine in chocolate relaxes your German Shepherd’s muscles while exciting its brain; this could lead to extreme lethargy.
- Seizure: This is one of the severe symptoms which start to show when a German Shepherd has consumed a huge amount of chocolate
- Hyperactivity: Dogs become hyper when they consume chocolate, and this hyperactivity could even lead to them harming themselves.
How long do these symptoms take to be evident?
There are different periods for different German Shepherds to show symptoms of chocolate poisoning. But, on average, it takes up to 6 to 12 hours for your German Shepherd to show symptoms. Some dogs may even show symptoms within 2 hours of consuming chocolate because of their fast metabolism. At the same time, some may even take an entire day to show symptoms because theobromine digests very slowly in dogs.
Ideally, you should not wait for the symptoms to be evident before beginning treatment if your dog has consumed chocolate. But if you are unaware of whether your German Shepherd has consumed chocolate or not, then begin treatment as soon as mild symptoms start to appear.
What should be done if a German Shepherd has eaten chocolate?
At this point, it is normal to wonder why we are providing so much information about the type of chocolate and its level of toxicity. The reason why we did this in the above part of the article is that your veterinarian may want to know the following things when you take your dog for treatment against chocolate poisoning:
- How long has it been since your German Shepherd ate chocolate?
- What type of chocolate it ate
- What quantity it had
- Whether your dog is showing any symptoms or not
The more information you have, the better your vet knows the best course of treatment for your German Shepherd. But even if you don’t have a lot of information, this article will help you navigate your thoughts so you can gather as many details as you can about your dog.
The first and foremost thing that should be done when you realize that your German Shepherd has eaten chocolate is to take it to the vet. However, there are several things that you can do at home to save your dog from getting severely ill. We will be listing these things below:
- Induce Vomiting: If it has been more than 2 hours to your German Shepherd consuming chocolate, you must try and induce vomiting as it will help take out the chocolate from the dog’s body. Additionally, this will also help prevent any other symptoms.
- Giving activated charcoal to your German Shepherd: This will help bind the chocolate in your puppy’s stomach and intestines so that it’s easy to drain all the chocolate from the dog’s body.
- IV fluids therapy: This is recommended by veterinarians in cases of chocolate poisoning as it helps the German Shepherd’s body get instant hydration and helps lessen the effects of caffeine.
- Giving cardiac medications: This helps control the heart rate of your German Shepherd so that the blood pressure doesn’t shoot and you bring your puppy’s health condition under control.
- Bland diet: This does not work as a medication. However, it lets the metabolism work at its comfortable pace and does not give any other digestion problems. This is so that the medication against chocolate poisoning can work and the dog faces minimal pain.
- Control increased heart rate and seizures: This is important so that your German Shepherd does not suffer from injuries.
- Monitor carefully: This is the most important thing to do to keep track of the symptoms and give treatments accordingly.
All of the above practices are recommended by vets. However, you should not employ any method to try and treat your German Shepherd without the vet’s approval. Sometimes, home remedies do more harm than good, so always discuss everything with the vet before doing it yourself.
These methods effectively lessen the effects of chocolate poisoning, but prevention is always better than cure. Keep chocolate hidden, and out of the reach of your German Shepherd, so it doesn’t consume any chocolate at all.
You have been told what happens if your German Shepherd eats chocolate, how much chocolate is safe for your German Shepherd, what to do if your dog has already eaten chocolate and what types of chocolate exist out there, so you know what to keep away from your four-legged friends.
Now, it is important to know that you should not be devastated when you learn about your German Shepherd suffering from chocolate poisoning. Your German Shepherd will survive the poisoning and recover through the treatments available. Secondly, do not try any home remedies on your own, and always contact your dog’s vet if a situation like this occurs.
Chocolate is available in many different forms; in desserts, drinks, and so much more. And since German Shepherds cannot eat chocolate, it is your responsibility to keep chocolate away from them as those poor little creatures that have no idea how harmful this yummy treat can be for them.
Finally, prevent as much as you can, and do not be careless about your dog’s food choices; always watch out for your pet!