Ah, those puppy dog eyes are so hard to resist! When your favorite four-legged pal is begging for a bite of your tasty baked goodies you wish you could share a nibble. oOly problem is, you aren’t sure whether or not some treats are safe for him to eat. You already know that dark chocolate is toxic to canines, but around the holidays especially, you might be wondering, Can dogs eat white chocolate? So we turned to veterinarians to get all the info on whether white chocolate is safe for pups, and here’s the lowdown on the sweet stuff.
Can dogs eat white chocolate?
“While white chocolate doesn’t contain much theobromine or caffeine, which are the toxic substances in chocolate that can be harmful to dogs, it may still contain a trace amount of these chemicals,” says Pansy Suzuki, DVM, medical director at Veterinarian Emergency Group in Washington, D.C. They’re both stimulants can cause vomiting, increased heart rate, agitation, and even seizures in our furry little friends. “The amount is typically very low — so most dogs will have no reactions if they accidentally consume some white chocolate.”
But does that mean dogs can safely eat white chocolate? Not really. Though the levels of theobromine are low in white chocolate, the treat still has high levels of fat and sugar, which can cause an upset stomach, says Dr. Suzuki. For that reason the vets we spoke to say white chocolate is not safe to give to dogs.
Why chocolate is bad for dogs
The reason chocolate is so bad for our furry pals is because theobromine builds up to toxic levels since their bodies can’t break it down quickly enough. “Dark chocolate is the most dangerous since it has a high concentration of theobromine,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian at The Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana and co-founder of Howto-pets.com.. “Whereas milk chocolate, which is less rich, still poses a significant risk in larger quantities.” Symptoms to look for range from mild to severe, including vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, restlessness, and in worse cases, seizures or heart failure.
Plus chocolate is loaded with fats and sugars, which can lead to pancreatitis, a serious inflammatory condition that can result from your pup ingesting too much fat. So it’s best to play it safe and keep all types of chocolate, including white, out of reach from curious canines.
What do to if your dog eats white chocolate
If your pal ingests white or any other kind of chocolate, what exactly should you do? Here is Dr. Ochoa’s advice:
1. Assess the situation
The first step is to determine how much white chocolate your dog has consumed. The size of your dog and the amount ingested will play a role in determining the severity of the situation, says Dr. Ochoa. If it’s a small amount, your dog will likely be okay, but if it’s a large quantity or if your dog is a smaller breed, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
2. Look for symptoms
Keep an eye out for any symptoms that may indicate chocolate toxicity. These can include increased heart rate, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, panting, tremors or even seizures. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to act quickly, says Dr. Ochoa.
3. Contact your vet
Reach out to your veterinarian immediately. They can provide guidance based on your dog’s size, the amount ingested and the symptoms present. They may ask you to induce vomiting or bring your dog in for further examination.
4. Get guidance on inducing vomiting
If your vet advises, you may need to induce vomiting to remove the chocolate from your dog’s system. However, this should only be done under veterinary supervision, cautions Dr. Ochoa. Never attempt to induce vomiting without proper guidance, as it can cause other complications.
5. Potential treatments
Depending on the situation, your vet may administer activated charcoal to help absorb any remaining toxins in your dog’s system. They may also provide supportive care, such as IV fluids or medication, to help manage any symptoms that arise.
Other treats to avoid giving your pup
Here, a few more treats to be wary of that could threaten your beloved pup’s health.
Cookies: Baked goods contain fat and sugar that may cause an upset stomach for furry friends, says Dr. Suzuki. Plus cookies might contain spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, which are also toxic to dogs.
Pretzels: Too much salt is a hazard to your pal’s health, warns Dr. Suzuki.
Fruit: Cherries, grapes and raisins are all toxic to your buddy.
Veggies: Onions, garlic, leeks and chives are poisonous for pups.
Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause tummy trouble, vomiting, muscle weakness and lethargy, says Dr. Suzuki. What’s more, almonds can be a choking hazard for canine pals.
If you still have questions about whether a food is safe for not, Dr. Suzuki refers pet owners to the ASPCA website, which she says is a great resource for any toxicities including food items.
Safe human food for dogs
So what kind of human treats are safe to share with your dog? Here are some dog-friendly snacks that can add extra tail-wagging flavor to your BFF’s day!
Dry cereals: As long as they are plain and unsweetened, Dr. Suzuki says cereals with nothing added in, like Cheerios, are safe for your furry buddy.
Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn is perfectly safe when unsalted and without any butter or heavy seasoning. Remember to remove any unpopped kernels, as they may pose a choking hazard, says Dr. Ochoa. Popcorn is low in calories and a source of fiber, making it a healthy occasional snack.
Peanut butter: PB is a high-protein, tasty treat that can be enjoyed in moderation. Just be sure that the peanut butter is sugar-free and doesn’t contain xylitol, a sweetener that can be toxic to dogs. Smear it on a few pieces of broken-off rice cake for an extra crunchy treat.
Pumpkin: Plain pumpkin, both fresh and canned (unsweetened and unspiced), is great for your pup’s digestive health, says Dr. Ochoa, and it’s generally a hit with the furry crowd.
Rice: Plain, cooked white or brown rice is gentle on upset puppy stomachs and can also serve as a nice little carb treat. Just keep it simple and unseasoned. Unsalted rice cakes can also be a safe treat as well.
When sharing a few snacks with your best buddy, one last caveat: Keep in mind that treats should make up at most 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake to maintain a balanced diet. So be mindful when it comes to human foods for pup, and remember, a little goes a long way.
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