Is chocolate actually bad for dogs? This age-old question is commonly asked by dog parents both new and old all around the world. So, can dogs eat chocolate? The short answer is no.
To learn more about why dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, and what to do if your dog does eat chocolate, read our article below!
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate contains an ingredient known as theobromine that is toxic to dogs. Although there are higher concentrations of theobromine in dark chocolate and baking chocolate, traditional chocolate and even white chocolate still contains the toxic chemical.
Even as little as 100 milligrams of theobromine per 1 kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) can kill a dog! With 3,000 milligrams of theobromine in one bar of chocolate and only half a bar of baking chocolate, most small and medium sized dogs would be in trouble consuming less than a bar of chocolate.
What If My Dog Ate Chocolate?
Oh no! What if your dog accidentally ingested some chocolate? Luckily, your vet will
know what to do!
Check the Symptoms
Depending on the size of your dog and the amount of chocolate they ate, you may not even need to see the veterinarian. For example, a large-breed dog eating a small piece of chocolate is typically not a cause for concern if they are not exhibiting any symptoms. If your dog is acting perfectly fine, and not showing symptoms of diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle tension, or vomiting, then chances are you do not need to see the vet. However, it would still be wise to call the vet to follow their procedure.
Call the Veterinarian
Keep in mind that symptoms will typically show up 6 to 12 hours after consumption. If you are not sure how much chocolate your dog ate, or they start showing symptoms, you should call your vet immediately. They will talk with you and may advise you to call ASPCA Poison Control to determine if your pet will require treatment. This call does have a cost, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This hotline operates 24/7 and can be found here at (888) 426-4435.
When calling your vet, they may ask you a couple of questions regarding:
- Your pup’s weight and breed
- The brand, type, and amount of chocolate consumed
- How long ago it was consumed
- Any medication your pup is currently on
It may be a good idea to have the wrapper for the chocolate handy to answer some of these questions. If you do not know the answer to some of the questions they ask, just stay calm and be honest with the veterinarian or their staff. In a situation like this, it is better to remain calm and collected than to panic.
My Dog Ate Chocolate and the Vet is Closed
In some situations, your dog may eat chocolate late at night when the vet is closed. If that is the case, what do you do?
Call an Emergency Vet
Emergency veterinarians are typically open later than traditional veterinarian practices, with some even open 24/7. If your general vet is closed, call your nearest emergency vet.
If there is not an emergency vet nearby, you can reach out to the ASPCA poison control hotline. This hotline operates 24/7 and can be found here at (888) 426-4435.
If you cannot get a hold of a veterinarian for professional advice, and the chocolate has been ingested in the last two hours, the last resort is to induce vomiting in your pup.
You could start by taking your pup outside to eat the grass. If your dog is feeling sick from the chocolate, chances are their natural instincts will come into play. This means they will be more than eager to chomp on some grass in order to induce vomiting themselves.
If this doesn’t work, you could try a teaspoon or two of 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. The hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with food or a treat to encourage the dog to eat it. After that, a quick walk around the yard will get the peroxide to foam in your pup’s stomach, and they will vomit.
Remember, inducing vomiting will only work if the chocolate has been ingested within the last two hours. If it has been beyond two hours, the chocolate more than likely has moved into the small intestine and vomiting will have no benefit.
Only try this tip as a last resort if you are not able to get a hold of a veterinary professional for advice. Furthermore, never use a foreign object such as a stick or a utensil to induce vomiting in your dog. This could pose a choking hazard.
Wash It Down
If your pup has ingested chocolate, and you still haven’t been able to get to a veterinarian or get professional advice from one, try feeding your pup their favorite meal with some water.
By doing this, we are attempting to “flush out” the chocolate and any toxic chemicals that are with it. Similar to inducing vomiting, this is a last resort if we are not able to get to a vet or get professional veterinary advice. However, flushing out the toxins with food and water will give your pup a chance to get rid of the toxins before they do any damage.
We never want emergencies to happen, but it is important to be prepared for unique situations such as your dog eating chocolate. Remember to call a veterinary professional immediately in this type of situation and follow their protocol and advice.