What To Do When Your Dog Eats Chocolate

It is well known that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. But, if this is news to you, well, dogs and chocolate are a toxic combination. If your dog eats chocolate there may be some serious consequences. The smaller and older the dog, the more danger they are in. Read on to understand the dangers of chocolate for canines and what to do if they accidentally eat some.

Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?

Chocolate is bad for dogs due to a chemical toxicity from theobromine and caffeine. These chemicals speed up the heart rate of a dog and stimulate their nervous system. While a majority of dogs only get severely ill, some consume enough chocolate for it to be lethal. The risk of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate, the amount consumed, and the dog’s size and age.

Toxicity of Different Types of Chocolate

Darker chocolate contains higher amounts of theobromine. This makes cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate the most toxic kind of chocolate. Almost all ingestions of these two cause chocolate poisoning and require an immediate veterinarian visit. Dark or semi-sweet chocolate are not as toxic but ingestions of 0.13 ounces or more per pound can cause chocolate poisoning. Milk chocolate is a lot less toxic with ingestion of 0.5 ounces or more per pound putting the dog at risk of poisoning. So, a few m&ms or a bite of a chocolate chip cookie won’t be likely to give your dog chocolate poisoning. White chocolate is mainly sugar and has extremely low levels of theobromine making it extremely unlikely to give your dog chocolate poisoning.

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you see your dog has eaten chocolate don’t wait around for symptoms to show. However, a lot of times consumption of chocolate happens when the owner is not around. Generally, symptoms of chocolate poisoning occur 6 to 12 hours after your dog has eaten it and they can last up to 72 hours. One of the first signs of chocolate poisoning is hyperactive behavior along with a faster than usual heartbeat. When small amounts of chocolate have been ingested, dogs have mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts of chocolate consumed cause more severe symptoms. These include severe agitation, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, comas, and collapse. Severe symptoms have a higher probability of leading to death.

What To Do When Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If you believe your dog has eaten chocolate call your veterinarian immediately or call the pet poison helpline (855-764-7661). They will ask about your dog’s size and age, the type of chocolate they ate, and how much of it they ate. A majority of the time veterinarians suggest to induce vomiting or to monitor the dog’s behavior for more severe symptoms. When severe symptoms materialize, it’s highly suggested to bring your dog into the clinic right away. Unfortunately, chocolate poisoning has no antidote but veterinarians offer supportive treatment to prevent further absorption of the poison and to hasten its elimination from the dog’s system. The earlier the treatment the faster your dog will recover. For more critical cases a veterinarian will keep the dog monitored at the clinic overnight until symptoms subside.

Prevent Your Dog From Eating Chocolate

The best way to stop chocolate poisoning is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Never offer your dog chocolate as a treat and be sure to always keep it somewhere far out of their reach. Be extra cautious around chocolate filled holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween. Remind your children and house guests that chocolate should always be out of reach and put away so your dog doesn’t get into it. Always be on the lookout for all dangerous foods so you keep your canine friend safe.