- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Some dog owners love to feed their friend everything their heart desires, including sweet treats. But many new dog owners are often shocked to find out that not only is chocolate bad for your dog—it’s actually poison. If your dog ate chocolate, here’s what you need to know.
Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
Why is chocolate bad for your dog? As we have written before, chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs because they can’t metabolize it like humans can. Depending on how much they ate, and your dog’s size, the effects could be mild, severe, or in some cases, fatal.
Act Quickly if You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Chocolate
Act quickly if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate and figure out what kind of chocolate, and how much, your dog has eaten.
Different types of chocolate products have stronger levels of toxicity for dogs, according to the Merck Vet Manual. Cocoa powder is the worst culprit; after that is unsweetened baker’s chocolate, followed by semisweet chocolate, and then, dark chocolate. The least dangerous (but still poison for your pup) is milk chocolate.
The second thing to consider is the weight of your dog compared to how much chocolate they might have eaten.
Pet MD has a great Chocolate Toxicity Meter to help guide you to determine the size of dog vs. the size of chocolate’s toxicity. If your medium-sized dog has eaten an ounce of dark chocolate, the toxicity meter is only two bars and you should monitor your dog. But that same amount for a 13-pound mini Dachshund is much more toxic and reaches to the middle of the meter.
If your dog is exhibiting several symptoms and ate an amount that’s on the higher side of the chart, you should err on the side of caution and take them in.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
According to the American Kennel Club, signs your dog has eaten chocolate include:
- Increased urination
Call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 immediately if your dog is experiencing tremors, increased heart rate, or begin to have seizures.
After Your Dog Eats Chocolate
If you have confirmed your dog has eaten chocolate, and you have connected with a vet or the Pet Poison Helpline, the person on the phone should check the ratio of chocolate to get you informed on the emergency of the situation. Right after, you may be asked to bring your dog into the vet, or monitor their symptoms at home.
At the clinic, your vet may induce vomiting in your dog or give them activated charcoal, or if you’re keeping an eye on things at home, tell you how to do this yourself.
It’s important to always act on the advice of a professional veterinarian who is trained to assess these types of situations before ever trying to make your dog throw up, or administering emergency medications or other digestive aids.
Preventing Your Dog From Eating Chocolate
The easiest way to prevent your pup from ingesting something he shouldn’t is to view your home, yard, and even the sidewalk or dog park through his eyes. Dog-proof like you would toddler-proof: keep cleaning fluids and medications in high cabinets, make sure toys can’t be swallowed or chewed into pieces small enough to swallow.
Keep houseplants on tall tables or shelves, out of your dog’s reach. Make sure all of the trash cans and recycling bins in the house have locking lids.
Chocolate is certainly bad for your dog, but many other common foods and household objects can pose problems.
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