What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate?

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Chocolate is toxic to dogs. The amount of harm depends on the type of Chocolate, the amount your pet consumes, and the size of your pet. A sufficient amount of chocolate or cocoa products can be lethal to pets. Of course, here we are talking about Chocolate in the true sense of the word, not those cocoa butter substitute products. Theoretically, the higher the cocoa content, the more dangerous, such as pure dark Chocolate.

What is Chocolate?

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which contain a very toxic substance called Methylxanthine, of which caffeine and theobromine are derivatives. These substances bind to specific receptors on the surface of cells, thus preventing natural substances in the animal from binding to the receptors. When taking small doses of methylxanthines, dogs will vomit and have diarrhea, while humans will be in a happy mood.

Why is Chocolate Dangerous for Dogs?

Chocolate contains high amounts of theobromine and caffeine. If dogs consume too much Chocolate, they can suffer muscle spasms and even go into shock. The heart rate will jump to more than twice its usual rate, and some will run around wildly as if they had drunk a large cup of espresso.

Larger dogs can generally tolerate more Chocolate than smaller dogs and cats.

A small amount of Chocolate may only make your dog feel sick to his stomach, vomit, or have diarrhea. Large amounts of theobromine can cause muscle tremors, convulsions, cardiac arrhythmias, internal bleeding, or heart disease.

Although dogs can digest Chocolate, how much they can summarize depends on their size and the type of Chocolate used. Unsweetened baking chocolate has more than six times the amount of methylxanthines than cream chocolate.

Different Types of Chocolate

Cocoa powder, cooking chocolate, and dark chocolate have the highest theobromine content, while milk chocolate and white Chocolate are relatively minor. So, when dealing with dark Chocolate, be sure to watch your greedy dog. Less than 30g of dark chocolate is enough to poison a 44-pound dog. For theobromine poisoning, inducing vomiting within two hours of chocolate ingestion is the usual treatment. So if you are concerned that your dog may have eaten a large amount of Chocolate, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Methylxanthine Concentrations in Different Forms of Chocolate

SourceCaffeineTheobromine
Baking Chocolate (1 oz)35-47 mg393 mg
Semisweet Chocolate (1 oz)22 mg238 mg
Black Chocolate (1 oz)12 mg200mg
Milk chocolate (1 oz)6 mg44-56 mg
White Chocolate (1 oz)0.85 mg0.2 mg

Number of Ounces of Chocolate a Pet Would Need to Ingest for Toxicity

Weight of Pet (Pounds)Milk Chocolate (ounces)Dark Chocolate (ounces)Baking Chocolate (ounces)
520.70.23
1041.40.5
1562.10.7
208.22.80.9
2510.23.51.2
3012.34.21.4
4016.45.51.9
5020.56.92.3
6024.58.32.8
7028.69.73.2
8032.7113.7
9036.812.54.1
1004113.84.6

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning

  1. Loss of appetite, vomiting
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Central nervous excitement, restlessness, trembling, unsteady pace, cramps, severe cases into a coma
  4. Rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, irregular heart rhythm
  5. Direct heart failure and death in severe cases

What to Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate?

First, find out what kind of Chocolate the dog has eaten. If we know what type of Chocolate the dog ate, they will give us the best treatment advice when we tell the vet.

When you can’t tell the type of Chocolate, bring the bag of Chocolate to the hospital. The vet can use the bag of Chocolate to deduce if this product contains other dangerous ingredients, such as xylitol, which is very bad for your dog’s health.

Remember! Any poisoning is only as effective and cheaper to treat as the less severe the symptoms and the lower the intake.

Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

  • Treatment principle: reduce chocolate absorption.  
  • Early emetic, give activated carbon (0.5~1.0g/kg PO) to absorb alkaline in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Osmotic catheterization: give sodium sulfate (1g/kg PO) to promote chocolate excretion in the gastrointestinal tract.  
  • Regulate electrolyte balance: correct electrolyte disorder when vomiting, and inject Ringer test solution intravenously.  
  • Sedation: Valium, chlorpromazine hydrochloride, and other injections can be used when neurological symptoms appear, subcutaneous or intramuscular injection.  
  • Excitement and epilepsy: epilepsy can be given phenobarbital (3~15mg/kg IV, given slowly).  
  • Cardiac arrhythmias: appropriate oral cardiac security can be given.  

The course of the disease usually lasts 12~36 hours, which depends mainly on the amount of chocolate intake and treatment measures. Successfully treated animals typically recover completely.

How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Chocolate?

  1. Obedience training, the dog will only eat after the command.
  2. Put the chocolate in a place where the dog can never reach it.
  3. Strictly screen your pet’s food.

Chocolate Substitute: Carob Powder

Carob has a similar taste to Chocolate, as an alternative to Chocolate without caffeine and theobromine. In addition, carob can also lower blood sugar and insulin levels, making it suitable for dogs with diabetes.

Final Thoughts

Dogs should not eat Chocolate. The theobromine in Chocolate has a powerful neurological effect on the dog’s central nervous system and heart muscle, and the higher its purity, the greater the risk. Symptoms after poisoning include drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, extreme hyperactivity, muscle spasms, coma, and even death. Beware of Valentine’s Day each year, which is the peak time for poisoning caused by accidental ingestion of Chocolate by dogs.


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