Chocolate is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs. The effects of your dog eating chocolate could be catastrophic, depending on what kind of chocolate it is, the amount of chocolate your dog ate, and the size of the dog. Dark chocolates especially, could potentially kill your dog so if you even suspect that your dog might have eaten some type of dark chocolate, get on the phone with the vet immediately. With white chocolates or say a chocolate chip cookie, you do not necessarily need to panic. However, this is not to say that you should ignore because other variables like the size of the dog come into play. Always talk to your vet first, and get advice on what to watch out for and the best course of action.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For Dogs?
Chocolate and cocoa products contain a chemical known as theobromine, which happens to be the toxic component. Caffeine is present too in chocolate. Both these substances can stimulate the nervous system and speed up the heart rate of your dog. In large amounts, theobromine can lead to a heart attack, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, muscle tremors, internal bleeding or death in dogs. In the unfortunate case of your dog consuming chocolate, look out for symptoms that are clear indications of theobromine poisoning.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Chocolate?
If a dog eats chocolate, there is the risk of theobromine poisoning. Poisoning happens because unlike in humans, theobromine is metabolized more slowly in dogs. This can cause toxic build-up to life-threatening levels. However as mentioned earlier, the type of chocolate and your dog’s weight determine what amount is sufficient enough to cause toxicity.
Cocoa powder is the most toxic, then baker’s chocolate, then semi-sweet chocolate, followed by dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate and then white chocolate being the least toxic. A certain amount of white chocolate could spell trouble for a small dog while the same amount for a bigger dog could cause diarrhea and vomiting at worst. It is still important to call the vet and monitor the dog for any signs of toxicity.
Theobromine also interferes with the dog’s heart rate and stimulates the nervous system.
Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs
Some of the first signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning include; diarrhea, vomiting, increased body temperature, rapid breathing and increased urination. These might progress into seizures, tremors, elevated heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually collapse and death.
Dogs with heart conditions and older dogs are more susceptible to sudden death from theobromine poisoning as it is a vasodilator and a cardiac stimulant.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
If your dog ate chocolate, call the veterinarian immediately for advice. Time is of the essence. Some countries have a Pet Poison Helpline that you could call as well. Depending on the size of your dog, the type and amount of chocolate eaten, your vet could either recommend that you keep an eye out for the signs listed above and call if the condition gets worse.
If your dog ate the chocolate less than 2 hours ago, the vet may recommend that you induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide. The recommended dosage is one teaspoon per 10 pounds/ 4.5 kilograms of body weight. You could confirm the exact dosage for your dog from the vet and use a medicine dropper or a turkey baster to administer.
In other cases, the vet may prefer that you take the dog to the clinic. In more severe cases like in the event of seizures, your dog may need to be monitored closely at the clinic and sometimes medications such as IV fluids may need to be used to reduce the effects of the poison.
How Much Chocolate Can A Dog Eat Without Dying?
If you are dealing with cocoa powder of darker types of chocolate, tread on the side of caution as they have higher quantities of theobromine. It takes a very small amount to kill a dog of any size. A 45-pound dog could be poisoned by less than an ounce of baker’s chocolate.
To know how much chocolate of each type it takes to make your dog sick, you need to know her weight.
Milk chocolate is one of the least toxic types but effects could still be fatal. According to most studies, it takes 0.7 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of your dog’s weight for your dog to start showing symptoms. In more concentrated kinds like cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate, 0.1 ounce per pound is enough to cause toxicity.
Remember that chocolate is not a treat for dogs so you should never actively feed it to your dog, even in the smallest amounts.
My Dog Ate Chocolate, How Long Until The Symptoms Show?
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually manifest within 6-12 hours after consumption, and may last up to 72 hours until the theobromine leaves the system. This, again, depends on the type of chocolate, and how much was eaten.
My Dog Ate Chocolate, What Do I Do Right Now?
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, your immediate course of action should be to call the vet, who will instruct you on the best plan of action. You need to know the type of chocolate, possible amount, and the weight of your dog, as this information will come in handy for the vet to determine the severity of the case to make a decision.
If you do not have access to a vet, you can use a chocolate dose calculator available online. If this calculator confirms that your dog has ingested a dangerous dose, inducing vomiting using peroxide might be your best bet. Ensure you are doing it safely to help your pooch and not to make things worse for her.
Your dog eating chocolate is probably every dog-owner’s worst nightmare. Most times, it happens by accident so preventive measures ought to be taken before your dog ingests something she shouldn’t. Now that you know just how bad chocolate is for dogs, keep them as far away as possible out of your dog’s reach. Especially during holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.