Why can’t dogs/my step dad eat chocolate?

Chocolate is toxic to dogs. It gives my s.dad migraines.
Onions are toxic to dogs. They give my s.dad migraines.
Dogs can’t eat acetylsalicylic acid (or can only be given a small amount, I’m not so sure about this one), but my s.dad can’t have it…

Now I realize my s.dad is not a dog. But there must be a reason why dogs can’t eat these things, but people usually can. What I am wondering is, is there some chemical or amino acid or something that dogs cannot produce that we can that allows us to eat them? And could a lack of this chemical be the reason these things give my s.dad so much trouble?

My step dad has been going to doctors throughout his life for help with his migraines and headaches, but he still gets them frequently. Anyone with any thoughts? Forgive me if this is a totally ridiculous question, I never did so well with biology.

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs

Research finds no evidence that chocolate triggers migraines

Are You Allergic To Chocolate? - A True Chocolate or Cocoa Allergy Is Rare

Duckster, you wouldn’t happen to be Duck Duck Goose in disguise, woud you?

Interesting question. In humans, some people are sensitive to substances that give most of us no problem. I have a co-worker who is allergic to corn and corn products (the give her migraines). Any idea how pervasive corn products are in modern processed foods???

I don’t know how this relates to dogs’ (or other animals’) intolerance to chocolate and other things. But it’s an interesting thought.

Why do you say that, he asks?

Curious minds want to know. :slight_smile:

Is chocolate really poisonous to dogs, or is it more due to the amount consumed? I’m looking at the list of what Daisy ate. It doesn’t give Daisy’s weight, but I’m guessing 70 pounds might be reasonable for a female golden retriever. I’ve got a feeling if I ate 10% of my body weight in chocolate and jelly beans, including foil wrappers, I wouldn’t be in too good of shape, either.

I had a dog, when I was a kid, that would eat the occaisional M&M that got away from me, and he never seemed any worse off for it. Of course, I never set the whole 1 pound (or whatever the big bags are) bag in front of him and let him have at it.

Yes, chocolate itself (or, more specifically, the theobromine in chocolate) is poisonous to dogs. Naturally, the amount consumed does have a great deal to do with toxicity, as is true of any poison. This site has more specific information, including a formula for determining theobromine and toxicity levels. It points out that different dogs can react differently to the same amount of theobromine, but includes the statement:

Don’t give dogs chocolate.

There is some speculation that theobromine (it’s also found in coffee and tea) may trigger some headaches, but most of the sources I’ve found are based on anecdotal evidence, not actual studies.

Just to give an example, a couple weeks before Christmas, my wife and I came home to find that our six month old Min Pins had found an unopened box of chocolate covered espresso beans on a medium-high shelf (how they got it we still don’t know, but they can jump) and managed to only eat about three or four between the two of them before we got home (most were still in their package), they were thowing up or dry heaving all night.

Two weeks later, we put gifts under the tree and blocked them off with a gate so we wouldn’t find wrapping paper all over the house. While we were away, they managed to knock the gate over and found the one box of See’s candy that we forgot was in that bushel of packages. Between the two of them they ate about a quarter pound. My wife said they had thrown up all over the house, and in her car twice in the five minute run to the vet. They threw up the rest of the night and into the morning and were so weak they couldn’t move for a day.

They surviived non the worse for wear, but damned if they still don’t go nuts if they smell chocolate. Makes me begin to doubt classical conditioning works…

Reading through Duckster’s links… (thanks by the way!)

Phenylethylamine can cause migraines

Tyramine-dull headaches

Theobromine withdrawal from theobromine can cause migraines

All of those are found in chocolate. S.dad seems to be pretty sensitive…he can’t eat foods with msg either.

So, is there a connection between onions, chocolote, msg, and acetylsalicylic acid or are his headaches just caused by him being sensitive, rather than some allergy or chemical imbalance?

Is it just dogs, or is it poisonous to other animals too? What about cats, birds, rats, and other such common pets?

Cats can’t have chocolate either, nor can they have over the counter NSAIDS. I’m reasonably certain birds wouldn’t even want the stuff, making it a moot point, and I don’t know about rats.

Canine and feline livers don’t produce the necessary enzymes to break down theobromine. They don’t metabolize most NSAIDS well either, although dogs can have aspirin. In a pinch you can give a dog ibuprofen, but it’s not a good idea for general use. You never give a dog or cat Tylenol, though.

As a pup, my miniature schnauzer ate at least half of a modest-sized box of chocolates we thought he couldn’t reach. He was fine, and he is now 6 years old. I have heard of others with similar experiences - like eating a pound of fudge. Does it depend more on the breed and/or age of the dog? Perhaps a young dog produces more insulin than an older dog?

Of course, if the chocolate is toxic (beyond the sugar content), it is a wise rule to follow, but not always a certain death sentence.

  • Jinx

Jinx to my knowledge it’s more the type of chocolate than the age or breed of the dog. The more the cocoa is diluted with other ingredients, the more total product an animal can eat without doing permanant harm. Dark chocolate becomes fatal at lower doses than milk chocolate, and baker’s chocolate is worse than dark chocolate.

In your pup’s case, he was eating candies with a thin chocolate coating, so he was getting more caramel, nuts, and sugary fillings than he was chocolate, and it probably saved his life. Eating an equivalent weight of pure slab chocolate would likely have done the little guy in. Same sort of principle with fudge or chocolate cake. You’ve got other stuff in there diluting the chocolate (and thus the theobromine), making it somewhat less dangerous.

It’s also worth noting that animals vary in their ability to tolerate levels of theobromine. Just like some humans can routinely consume amounts of alcohol that would throw other humans of similar size and weight into alcohol poisoning, some dogs can eat huge amounts of chocolate with no apparent ill effects.

BTW, sugar isn’t toxic to animals, it just plays hell with their digestive tracts. They don’t break down sucrose well, either, especially as puppies and kittens. The sucrose winds up in the intestines, osmosis pulls in a lot of water to dilute the sucrose, and the animal winds up with diarrhea. Large amounts of sucrose can also cause enough stomach irritation to make them vomit.