What to Do if Your Dog has Eaten Chocolate
Wed, April 21, 2021

What to Do if Your Dog has Eaten Chocolate

As much as we loved and wanted to feed our furry friends, chocolates must be included in the "No-List" /  Photo Credit: Александр Ермолаев via 123rf


Dogs love treats. They enjoy being rewarded with sweets or foods that they don’t usually get. Giving them treats is highly recommended because you are making them feel even more special and validated. However, if there’s one treat a lot of humans enjoy much themselves but dogs shouldn’t eat is chocolates. While chocolates are a popular treat for people, it can be extremely dangerous for our pets to eat them. 

Unfortunately, dogs sometimes find their way into eating chocolates. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy for them to find any secret hiding spot in the house for the chocolate. It’s important that owners are aware of why dogs should not be allowed to eat this kind of treat and what should be done if they accidentally eat it.


Why Dogs are Not Allowed to Eat Chocolates

Chocolates are made from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which has certain properties like caffeine and theobromine that most of us love. These substances, however, are proven toxic to animals. According to Hills Pet, an online site that creates properly balanced dog and cat food for your pet's nutritional needs, no matter what their age, breed, or size is, dogs process theobromine a lot slower compared to humans. This allows the substance to build up to toxic levels inside their body and cause medical complications. If they happen to eat a whole bar of chocolate, it will shift their heart into overdrive and eventually kill them. This is because theobromine can cause muscle tremors, heart attack, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. 

Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, a holistic veterinarian at Clayton and Churchtown Veterinary Associates in New Jersey, stated that different types of chocolate have varying amounts of theobromine. This means that their toxicity levels will vary. White chocolates, which have the lowest level of theobromine, could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. Also, the amount of sugar in this chocolate could be harmful to dogs.

Milk chocolate, on the other hand, also contains lower levels of theobromine compared to dark and baking chocolate. Still, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Both dark chocolate and baking chocolate can be harmful to dogs as they can cause severe symptoms. These include fast and irregular heartbeats, tremors, seizures, and possibly death. 


Too much theobromine (present in chocolates) for dogs can cause muscle tremors, heart attack, internal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and seizures / Photo Credit: Peakpx


But the No. 1 type of chocolate that dogs should never consume is baking chocolate because it has high levels of theobromine. This is very dangerous for your pet because it contains almost 10 times as much theobromine as milk chocolate or about 450 milligrams per ounce. Some food that is made of unsweetened baking chocolate is brownies, truffles, chocolate cake, and other desserts. A lethal dose of theobromine is .67 to 1.3 ounces of baking chocolate per 2.2 pounds of dog.

There could also be additional problems when baking chocolate is consumed in the form of baked goods such as cakes or brownies. “If the baked goods also contain raisins or macadamia nuts, it's even more trouble. Added sugar in the baked goods will contribute to vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly pancreatitis,” Morgan said.


Knowing the Symptoms

According to Vets Now, an online site that features the latest news, updates, hints, and tips about your beloved pet, dogs shouldn’t be allowed to eat even a small quantity of chocolates because this can be dangerous for them. Theobromine doses in the region of 100 to 150 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight are toxic to dogs. As little as 3,000 milligrams of theobromine can be fatal to a Labrador weighing 30kg.

Tina Wismer, the medical director of the Animal Poison Control Center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), stated that some of the symptoms that show your dog has eaten chocolate include extreme thirst, diarrhea, too much energy, pacing, panting, shaking, and seizures. However, these signs usually take 6 to 12 hours to show up after the chocolate has been consumed. 

Wismer added that owners should immediately go to their vets if they think their dogs ate chocolate. They don’t need to wait for the warning signs. Early treatment will help them recover quicker and lower costs. Also, the amount and type of chocolate ingested is important to determine the severity of the toxicity. For instance, milk chocolate has mild signs of toxicity that can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested, while severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested.

For semi-sweet chocolate, mild signs of toxicity can happen when 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested, while severe toxicity occurs when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested. Lastly, as little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog. 


If an owner accidentally fed chocolate to their dog(s), they should look up to the specific symptoms immediately /  Photo Credit: Jovan Mandic via 123rf


What to Do

If your dog has eaten chocolate, the first thing you need to do is to figure out how much your pet ate. They should also be taken to the vet for immediate care. Also, it is common practice to induce vomiting and control any seizure should they occur. According to American Kennel Dog, the recognized and trusted expert in breed, health, and training information for dogs, vets usually give dogs several doses of activated charcoal if they consumed chocolate less than two hours ago. This can help to move the toxins out of the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

But the best cure is preventing dogs from eating chocolate in the first place.