Your Dog Ate Chocolate: Here’s What to Expect

Every dog owner knows their furry friend would just about eat anything. Dogs aren't picky eaters, so it's important for their owners to manage their diet accordingly.
Sometimes your dog might sneak food without your knowledge, someone else might give them food, or you can't resist their puppy eyes. However, make sure to never give your dog chocolate! It may be delicious, but it's highly poisonous to dogs.
If your dog ate chocolate; don't panic and immediately call your vet. Don’t wait or attempt home remedies unless a vet is unavailable.

How to Know if Your Dog Ate Chocolate?

Signs of chocolate toxicity vary between dogs depending on the dog’s size and the amount of chocolate ingested. If you suspect your furry friend ingested chocolate, be on the lookout for any of the following signs:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive salivation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
These signs can appear within 12 hours of chocolate ingestion, sometimes taking up to 24 hours. If you’ve seen your dog ingested chocolate, don’t wait for the symptoms, and contact your vet immediately.

What to Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate?

Chocolate poisoning is fatal to dogs. Taking immediate action can help save your pet’s life.
The best course of action would be to take your dog to the vet.
Your vet will most likely induce vomiting in the dog, flush its stomach, and administer activated charcoal to avoid further absorption of chocolate toxins into your dog’s system. Then, your dog will be monitored for 4-6 hours.
If you don’t have access to a vet, you should call emergency hotlines or find an available vet online to help you through the next steps.
Your vet will probably recommend a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to induce vomiting in your dog and adjust the dose according to the dog’s size. Another option would be Ipecac. You should also give your dog plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Never force your dog to vomit or give it activated charcoal without vet supervision, as incorrect dosing may be as dangerous as chocolate poisoning.

How Much Chocolate is Poisonous to Dogs?

Chocolate is highly poisonous. An amount as small as one ounce can be toxic to your dog. However, there are many factors to determine if your dog is poisoned or not, including the dog’s size, type of chocolate, and amount ingested.
For example, a Labrador Retriever will probably be okay if it licked a chocolate wrapper, but a small Yorkshire Terrier can’t ingest as little as a teaspoon of cocoa powder.
When it comes to pets, the safest option is to consult your vet. They will give you a precise estimation of the amount of chocolate toxic to your specific dog. You can also use a chocolate toxicity calculator, which is a highly accurate alternative.

Understanding The Dangers of Chocolate

It isn’t the dairy or the high amount of sugar present in chocolate that makes it poisonous. Cocoa itself contains chemical compounds that, when ingested, are fatal to dogs.
The two main toxic compounds present in cocoa are theobromine and caffeine. These fall under a group of potent stimulators called methylxanthines.
These chemicals affect dogs much more than they do humans. Think about how you feel after eating chocolate or drinking caffeine; the stimulants cause your muscles to relax and your heart and brain activity to go up. Amplify these effects and you might understand the dangers of chocolate on your little pet!
Logically, this means there are types of chocolate more toxic than others depending on their theobromine content. Pure cocoa is the most toxic, followed by dark chocolate, then milk, then the rarely toxic white chocolate.

How to Prevent Chocolate Poisoning

The best remedy for chocolate poisoning is prevention. While dogs can be tempted by the delicious taste of chocolate, you must keep it from them at all times.

Keep Cocoa Products Out of Reach

Keep any products containing chocolate in a sealed container or a locked cabinet. Always watch your dog when there are cocoa products around and make sure they don’t sneak a taste!

Stock up on Dog Treats

If you can’t resist the puppy eyes and just want to spoil your pup with the delicious taste of chocolate; you can buy special dog chocolate which doesn’t contain any cocoa. Alternatively, you can give your dog a very small amount of white chocolate.
Large amounts of treats and white chocolate can also be dangerous to dogs due to the high amount of sugar and calories, so save these for special occasions.

Train Your Dog

Some dogs are harder to train than others. If your dog is disciplined enough, you might be able to train it to stay away from chocolate.
You can use simple commands such as “No” or “Drop It” if you catch your puppy around chocolate.

Educate Your Friends and Family

Most people who don’t own dogs are unaware of the dangers of chocolate. If you have a relative dog-sitting or just a guest in your house, it’s important to make them aware and advise them to never leave chocolate unattended when around dogs.

Recovering After Chocolate Poisoning

Recovery depends on the degree of toxicity, whether your dog has other health issues, and most importantly, how quickly the treatment is given. The most effective recovery happens if your dog is treated as early as possible after chocolate ingestion.
There is no antidote to chocolate poisoning. All procedures taken are remedies to prevent further toxicity. Therefore, your dog must be monitored following chocolate poisoning.
Most dogs recover within two to three days. If the symptoms persist longer, or if your dog exhibits abnormal behavior, contact your vet immediately.

Conclusion

Although humans and dogs alike find chocolate incredibly delicious, never pamper your dog by giving it chocolate. The smallest amount of chocolate is poisonous to dogs and immediate action must be taken if your dog ate chocolate.
Time is the most important factor in chocolate poisoning cases. Treatment must be given within two hours for successful recovery. Any measures must be taken by a trained vet to avoid other complications.
Related Articles:
  • What Vaccines Do Dogs Need?
  • How To Stop A Dog From Barking