Many of us can attest to the tastiness of chocolate, and it is well known for its palatable flavor and stimulating properties. What happens if your dog ate a lot of chocolate? While chocolate might be a delightful indulgence for you, the same treat may spell doom for your dog. Of course, an occasional chocolate chip cookie may not warrant an emergency visit to the vet clinic. Still, if your dog ate a chocolate bar or a bag of M&M’s, that is a situation not to be taken lightly as it could be potentially fatal.

Why Is Chocolate Poisonous?

Chocolate contains a stimulating chemical known as theobromine—a substance chemically similar to caffeine. Theobromine and caffeine work the same way in dogs, stimulating the nervous system and elevating the heart rate. Theobromine concentrations vary among chocolate types. As a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine, and the more risk your pet is likely to face. Furthermore, chocolate has large amounts of sugar and fat, which are not healthy for your dog to consume.

Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

The risk of your dog getting ill from eating chocolate depends largely on the concentration of theobromine in the chocolate eaten, your dog’s weight, and recent health conditions. If you notice your dog has eaten a chocolate bar or ingested any other cocoa-infused snacks, then your pet is at risk of chocolate poisoning. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Tremors in the muscles and limbs
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Increased heart rate

If you do not provide immediate medical attention, your pet can experience the collapse of vital body organs and systems.

Treatment Of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

The most effective response to chocolate poisoning in dogs is recognizing the symptoms and acting immediately. If you see your dog eating a chocolate bar or notice any of the above clinical signs, call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661, or your veterinarian immediately to determine the best course of action.

Your vet may provide heart medication to regulate heart rate and blood pressure. IV fluids can flush theobromine from the body. Inducing vomiting and giving activated charcoal can help reduce chocolate absorption. Your dog should be able to recover if they do not experience complicated clinical signs.