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.
See: 20 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog
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.
Amy Shojai says
Great information! I like the idea of using the carob instead of chocolate. Thanks for sharing.
I am absolutely paranoid about Edie eating food that is toxic and dangerous to dogs. But saying that, accidents do happen and pets do get into things they shouldn’t. I’m happy that Kilo and Angus were ok after getting into the chocolate.
Ruth Epstein says
I am petrified of chocolate and actually do not keep it in the house to be safe LOL. Thanks for the great info o
Great information, I couldn’t imagine what I would do if my dog got a whole tray of brownies.
Tonya Wilhelm says
Thanks for sharing this. Oh, that cupcake is so cute! Now, if I can just dump the chocolate for me…..
Shannon Adams says
Such valuable information. Especially at a time of year when so much chocolate is being given and accepted. I used to work as a vet tech and we saw a lot of sick dogs due to chocolate. I have not had a chocolate scare with my own dogs but I have friends who have. It is so scary!
Rebecca at MattieDog says
Very helpful post – I particularly like how you reflected the toxicity levels of the different varieties of chocolate. We had our own scare once – one of our dogs, a senior that we had just recently adopted (who really wasn’t an active pup – she was rather mellow), decided that a chocolate protein bar out of my husband’s gym bag would be just the thing! It sure was – it was the thing that got her to the vet ASAP! Poor thing – she seemed really mad that we made her throw up. But it’s important to get the word out about these dangers, so thank you for sharing!
Katie Allan says
Great information! I give Echo and Gracie carob cookies and they love them!
Talent Hounds says
I gave them to the whole family and a big success.
Beth Patterson says
Somehow Theo managed to get some m & ms a few weeks ago. I didn’t know until he started throwing up. At first, I wasn’t concerned because it was milk chocolate. But he kept being sick and started pacing. I took him to the emergency vet and they induced even more vomiting. Luckily, he is okay. We still aren’t sure how he got them, but I suspect he knocked the bag over and ate the spilled ones. (The bag was still on the counter.) I always try to refresh my memory of what is toxic (food, plants, etc.) so I know if I should call the vet or not.
Talent Hounds says
Thank goodness he is OK. Happy 2017
Sweet Purrfections says
I had no idea chocolate was so toxic for dogs (and cats) until I began blogging. thanks for sharing the information.
Dash Kitten Crew says
Chocolate and dogs just dobn’t mix do they! The symptoms are scary to read and I don’t have a dog!!
I would not have it in the house if I had one.
Cathy Armato says
A few years ago I met a woman whose small dog got into a 2lb box of chocolate that was in an open suitcase on the bed. The dog ate the whole thing and unfortunately did not survive. Ever since then I’ve been super vigilant about keeping chocolate in upper cabinets out of the dogs’ reach. My husband gave me a 1lb block of Toblerone chocolate, my favorite. Fortunately, we scarfed it down in just two days so no danger to the dogs, BOL!! Thanks for sharing this critical warning, so many people don’t know about the danger of chocolate to pets.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
All the chocolate in our house are the more toxic varieties so we’re careful. Mr. N at least does not care for chocolate in the slightest. He walks past abandoned candy bars and chocolate without even glancing at them.
Chocolate is so scary for dogs! I will definitely share this. Such great information that every dog owner should know.
We are “health nuts” and so have raw fermented cacao on a regular basis for it’s magnesium etc. We are always hyper careful … good to know what to do. Thanks. With him being only 3.5 pounds not sure how much “time” we’d have to respond.
My husband LOVES chocolate. So, the likelihood that my guys would have a chance? No chance.
Chocolate is a worry though, and I will share this fabulous information – thank you.
Lindsay N Pevny says
Good to know! Everyone knows that dogs can’t have chocolate, but it’s not so much common knowledge how much they can ‘safely” eat and how much. Some people let their dog have an M&M or two, but I don’t let mine even have a lick – better if they don’t see it as a treat. I’d love to try to make carob based treats!
Malaika Fernandes says
Thank you for this informative post. We were always very careful in our household with Prince it was always a task to make sure he didnt sneak in any bits of it. He always wanted to be involved, didnt beg but always curious why he wasnt offered any