Leftover Chocolates and Other Things Dogs Shouldn’t Eat

Some dogs (and people) will eat whatever gets put in front of them. I had heard that you should never ever feed a dog chocolate, but I wasn’t sure why. I happened to be thinking about post Valentine’s Day chocolate sales and for some reason began wondering about the dog connection. I did a little research to find out why chocolate was bad for them and discovered more things that might also be harmful.

Full disclosure

1.  I don’t own a dog. I grew up with them — beautiful German Shepherds — but now I only have cats. Four cats.

My cat Charlotte

This is Charlotte. She is my muse. She always hangs out with me when I’m writing. See that colorful paw? She also helps me when I’m trying to paint.

2. I didn’t get any chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but my husband gave me an awesome home-made card and it touched my heart.

Valentine Card

Back to the subject at hand.

Why chocolate is bad for dogs

Dog licking its chops

Look at that face! Is there an open box of chocolates nearby? Quick, put it away.

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, compounds that belong to a group of chemicals known as methylxanthines. The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of methylxanthines and the greater the risk of it being toxic to a dog. Symptoms of poisoning generally depend on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate it ate.

  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Severe agitation
  • Muscle tremors
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • High body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Death

If you have any concerns at all, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

I also found a Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter on petMD.com. You enter your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate and amount consumed and it will let you know the level of toxicity.

Five more things you should not feed your dog

1. Alcohol

To me, not giving your dog alcohol is a no brainer, but I’ve seen pictures of people offering their dogs bowls of beer. I will not be showing any of those pictures. Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on humans. The difference is it doesn’t take as much or as long.

Here’s what the ASPCA says alcohol can cause in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased coordination
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors
  • Abnormal blood acidity
  • Coma
  • Death

2. The sweetener Xylitol, which is found in gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause an increase in insulin production, which can decrease sugar levels and lead to liver failure.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can happen within days.

3. Grapes and raisins

They may be good for us humans, but grapes and raisins can cause a host of symptoms:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

If you think your dog would like some fresh fruit, try slices of apples, pears, oranges, bananas or seedless watermelon.

4. Milk

Apparently, neither cats nor dogs are able to break down and digest lactose. If they drink cow’s milk or eat a milk-based product like ice cream, they can develop digestive problems.

5. Raw meat and meat bones

The main risk with raw meat is that it could contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E.coli.

Even though chewing on a bone is good for a dogs teeth and gums, bones are potentially dangerous because they might splinter and become lodged in a dog’s throat or puncture its digestive tract.

What do you think?

I expect a lot of people to disagree with not feeding dogs raw meat and meat bones! What’s your opinion?

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane Atwood was the health reporter on News Center 6. She's now a regular guest on the Morning Report. Before she became a health reporter, Diane was a radiation therapist/dosimetrist at Maine Medical Center. In 2000, she left the world of reporting to manage marketing and public relations for Mercy Hospital. In 2011, she decided to pursue a longtime dream of being a freelance writer and launched her award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.