Chocolate is a tasty treat for humans that can be fatally toxic for dogs. It is probably one of the most common forms of poisoning in dogs, so it’s vital to know what to do if it happens to your dog like it did to mine.
Kilo the Pug stole and devoured a whole tray of dark chocolate and walnut brownies when we were first fostering him. I rushed him to my vet and the vet induced vomiting and gave him a charcoal product. He was fine. Last week, our house-guest Angus took a few bites of a block of dark chocolate he scavenged out of a backpack. Luckily for him, he threw up his breakfast and all the chocolate almost immediately (on the white carpet of course). We monitored him carefully for the next 2 days and he was fine.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate- Risks
If you know your dog has consumed Chocolate, call your vet or the 24-hour ASPCA poison control hotline: 1(888) 426-4435. Some fees may apply if you get a full phone consult, but it may be worth it. They can help you calculate the risk to your pup by taking important information like:
- What exactly did they eat? Was it dark chocolate or cocoa?
- How much did they consume?
- How long ago do you think they consumed it?
- How big is your dog? What do they weigh?
- Did they vomit?
What’s so bad about chocolate? It’s delicious!
Although you may be tempted at times, the unfortunate truth that sharing certain human foods with your dog can be seriously harmful to their health.
Whether your dog has snuck a bite of your brownie or stolen an entire cake, it can be helpful to understand just what is happening and what to do. While a small amount of milk chocolate may not harm a big dog, chocolate contains very toxic substances that are basically stimulants that can damage a dog’s metabolic process.
Chocolate Toxicity In Order
- Cocoa Powder (most toxic)
- Unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate
- Semisweet Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
- White Chocolate (least dangerous)
Toxins In Chocolate
Chocolate contains substances known as methylxanthines – specifically caffeine and theobromine. These Toxic substances are in all kinds of chocolate, with dark chocolate containing the most and white chocolate the least.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity
- Upset Stomach
In More Severe Cases
- Muscle Tremors
- Internal Bleeding
- Irregular heart beat
- Heart Attacks
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms then you’re best getting in to see the vet as soon as possible.
It’s also possible that if your dog has eaten chocolate, they will naturally vomit on their own shortly after. If they have not vomited, and the health risks seem high, the vet may need to induce vomiting like in Kilo’s case. So it is crucial to speak to and/or see a vet as soon as you realize what has happened.
And again calling the 24 hour ASPCA hotline can help you calculate that risk quickly.
Nobody plans for these sorts of things to happen, but whether it’s the middle of the night and your vet is closed or not, the reality is that they do. Keeping a clear head and taking immediate action can save your dog’s life.
Safe ‘Chocolate’ Substitute For Dogs
While researching for our Dog Licks Dog-Friendly Recipes, we looked for a Dog-Friendly Substitute for Chocolate and found Carob. You’ll be impressed with the benefits for dogs and humans. In fact, all of the ‘chocolate’ photos in this post are actually Carob!
Carob is a chocolate substitute that can be ground into powder, melted or made into chips, just like chocolate. It has a similar rich dark brown color and naturally sweet flavor. It does not contain stimulants like caffeine, phenylethylamine or formamide, making it a great potential substitute for humans too.
- Make sure family and friends realize the dangers of certain human foods and do not leave them within reach. I am always nagging my daughter about chocolate and chewing gum- very early on she tossed her sugar-free gum in a tissue in a waste basket and Kilo stole it. He had a fit when we took it away in the nick of time. I also have to make sure to clean up appetizers or desserts immediately as Kilo will table surf like a ninja. I also have to use high counters as he can jump like Lebron James and will pull on bags (the onion scare). I also taught Kilo to always close cupboard doors in the kitchen if he sees them open after he raided the bin once. It is a very cute trick for guests so win win. I decided not to teach him to open doors.
- Teach your dog a good drop. Kilo and I work on this regularly and he has gone from major dangerous guarding food to trading for kibble or treats.