Dogs can eat many of the foods we humans eat but some foods are definitely off limits. Many people are aware of some of the foods dogs can’t eat, but other foods might seem safe. You may already be aware that dark chocolate is toxic to dogs… but what about other varieties? Can dogs eat white chocolate? Surely that can’t be bad?
The short answer is dogs should absolutely NOT eat white chocolate (or any chocolate for that matter). At best, all chocolate made for human consumption could make your dog poorly… at worst, all chocolate can be fatal.
In this post I’m going to explain why dogs shouldn’t eat white chocolate. I’ll also explain what to do if your dog ever eats white chocolate?
My aim is not to scare you but to explain calmly why white chocolate is bad for dogs and how to respond if your dog accidentally snaffles some when you’re not looking.
Of course it goes without saying that you should NEVER knowingly give your dog white chocolate to eat.
Table of Contents
- Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
- Why is White Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
- What Should You Do if Your Dog Eats White Chocolate?
- Related Posts
Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
No, dogs should never eat white chocolate… actually you should never allow your dog to eat any chocolate made for human consumption.
Chocolate contains two chemical substances which make dogs very poorly: theobromine and caffeine. Not only this, but chocolate is also high in sugar and fat.
Aside from the immediate health problems theobromine and caffeine can cause, an excess of sugar and fat in a dog’s diet can lead to obesity and a range of long-term health issues that can both shorten and reduce the quality of a dog’s life.
Why is White Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
As discussed, all chocolate contains the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine. In truth, white chocolate contains less of these substances than plain or dark chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in the US). As a consequence, if a dog eats white chocolate it’s less likely to have side effects as severe as darker chocolates.
That said, white chocolate is still toxic for dogs and the effects can be serious, especially if eaten in large amounts.
In dogs, theobromine and caffeine both affect heart function causing tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmia, but they can also cause digestive problems (diarrhoea and vomiting), dehydration (both are diuretics) and restlessness.
Dogs can’t metabolise theobromine and caffeine in the same way humans can. For us, overconsumption can result in unpleasant effects such as insomnia and heart palpitations. For dogs, overconsumption can lead to theobromine / caffeine poisoning, which may result in seizures and ultimately death.
Regardless of the toxicity of the substances in white chocolate, there’s also the issue of sugar and fat. White chocolate contains considerably more sugar than milk or dark chocolate and is also high in fat.
The US Department of Agriculture shows that 100g of white chocolate contains 59g sugar and 32g of fat. Compare this to 100g of sweet or dark chocolate, which has 48g of sugar and 33 grams of fat.
A diet that’s high in fat and sugar can lead to obesity and a range of associated health issues for dogs.
1. Joint and Ligament Problems
Increased weight puts increased pressure on joints and ligaments.
Cartilage between joints can deteriorate more quickly the more overweight a dog is, which can lead to joint damage and arthritis.
Additionally, overweight dogs have a higher risk of tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in their knees, which requires surgical intervention to fix.
2. Cardiovascular Problems
Overweight dogs are more likely to suffer heart problems, high blood pressure and breathing problems.
For certain breeds known to be predisposed to heart conditions (Whippets) or breathing difficulties (Boxers), obesity can be life threatening.
3. Tumours and Cancer
Obese dogs may be more prone to both lipomas and carcinomas.
Lipomas (fatty tumours) are usually relatively harmless (benign), though they can become painful or unsightly.
Carcinomas on the other hand can be harmful (malignant) and can spread.
4. Life Expectancy and Life Quality
It’s reported that obesity can reduce a dog’s life expectancy by up to 2.5 years. Overweight dogs also have a lower quality of life, as physical activity can be harder for them. Play and exercise becomes harder as they require more effort, so overweight dogs tire more quickly.
Additionally, certain health conditions brought about by obesity may be painful or require surgical correction.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats White Chocolate?
The first thing to do is to remain calm. As I’ve already stated, if your dog eats white chocolate the toxic effects are likely not going to be as serious as with darker chocolate.
Try to establish what type of white chocolate and how much of it your dog has eaten and take your dog to a veterinary professional. Your vet will be able to determine the best course of treatment based upon this information.
It may seem to be an overreaction to take a dog to a vet even if your dog appears to be fine after eating white chocolate. However, it’s worth noting that chocolate poisoning can take several hours to show by which time your dog may suffer unnecessarily.
My advice would be to get your dog treatment if your dog eats any amount of white chocolate, just to be on the safe side and to avoid your dog becoming poorly. The sooner you speak to a veterinary professional the better it will be for you and your dog.
The type of treatment your veterinarian will administer will depend on the amount of white chocolate your dog has eaten.
Most likely will be induced vomiting and / or administering charcoal to absorb the theobromine and caffeine alkaloids to prevent your dog absorbing them. This is a normal treatment for dogs eating something toxic… it’s what happened when my dog ate raisins.
Your dog may also require fluids to help excrete the alkaloids and will likely require monitoring to keep an eye on its heart rate and blood pressure. This may mean your dog has to spend a night or two at the clinic so that medication can be administered if required.
Summary: Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
While not as toxic as darker chocolate, dogs should not eat white chocolate as it can still be extremely harmful, especially in large quantities.
Even if a dog avoids serious white chocolate poisoning, the long terms effects of a diet high in sugar and fat are also extremely harmful for dogs and can shorten life expectancy and reduce quality of life.
If your dog accidentally eats white chocolate, contact a veterinary professional as soon as possible… but NEVER give your dog white chocolate intentionally.
Has your dog ever eaten white chocolate? What happened? Please tell us about your experiences or ask a question in the comment section at the foot of this page.
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