My Dog Ate Chocolate! Now What?

July 27, 2018

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Chocolate is produced by the beans of a cocoa plant and includes two dangerous compounds; theobromine and caffeine. Both compounds act as a heart and nervous-system stimulant, very similar to their effects in humans. However, dogs and cats are unable to metabolize theobromine or caffeine within their digestive systems, which makes them much more toxic to our pets in much smaller concentrations.

What type of chocolate is toxic to dogs?

The concentration of theobromine determines how toxic the chocolate is; at the top of the list is cocoa powder and unsweetened bakers chocolate. If you’re a baker or enjoy the occasional cup of hot cocoa, be extra careful around your pets!. Next on the list is dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and finally, white chocolate (being least toxic). The type of chocolate is not the only indicator to toxicity level. A smaller dog may be affected by something as small as a bite-sized brownie, whereas a larger dog likely will not. A toxicity calculator is a great tool to measure the tolerance of your pet before anything is ingested, so that you can be prepared.

What does chocolate toxicity look like?

Signs and symptoms of chocolate toxicity usually appear 6-12 hours after ingestion. Vomiting and/or diarrhea are the most common signs of poisoning. Apart from this, restlessness, shaking/seizures, increased or inappropriate urination, lethargy and collapsing are all serious signs of poisoning that require immediate and emergency medical attention. Older dogs, puppies, and dogs with pre-existing heart conditions are more vulnerable than others.

What to do if your dog eats chocolate

If your dog has ingested chocolate, contact a veterinarian immediately. They will ask you questions about the type of chocolate ingested, the amount of chocolate, and details about your dog in order to assess the severity of the situation. You may be asked to monitor your pet for the next 24-48 hours in less severe situations, but IV fluids or medications may be required if the situation merits. If you would like to learn more about chocolate toxicity and how you can prepare yourself, connect with a veterinarian today to discuss your options.