If your dog ate a small amount of chocolate such as a few M&Ms, it is unlikely they will experience any severe symptoms. However, dogs should not eat chocolate as it is toxic to pets. If your dog has consumed chocolate, you should seek treatment immediately and monitor them for signs of chocolate poisoning. This is especially important if your dog has consumed bakers’ chocolate or dark chocolate, as they contain more theobromine (the chemical responsible for chocolate poisoning) than milk chocolate.
Theobromine is methylxanthine that is found in milk and dark chocolate. This chemical is toxic to dogs if ingested, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and in rare cases, death
Dogs make up 95% of all our chocolate calls. Because chocolate is such a popular and delicious snack to share, be sure to remind everyone in your home that chocolate is not a treat to share with furry friends!
In addition to the toxic chemical in chocolate, a secondary danger is present when it comes to candy, the wrappers. In smaller dogs, wrappers can cause secondary obstructions in the stomach or intestines.
Why is some chocolate more toxic?
When talking about chocolate poisoning remember: Dark chocolate = dangerous!
Baker’s chocolate, gourmet dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and cocoa powder are more likely to result in chocolate poisoning than milk chocolate. White chocolate contains such little theobromine that ingestion will not cause chocolate poisoning in pets.
Threat to pets
The more chocolate a dog has consumed, the higher the risk of chocolate poisoning. A dog that ate a few chocolate chips or 1-2 bites of brownie is less likely to develop chocolate poisoning than a dog who has eaten baker’s chocolate or an entire milk chocolate bar. How much chocolate would your pup have to consume to be in the danger zone? Below are some general guidelines:
- More than 0.5 ounces of milk chocolate per pound of body weight.
- More than 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate
- Any amount of baker’s chocolate. This is considered an emergency, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Puppies, pets with underlying diseases, and geriatric pets are at an increased risk for chocolate poisoning and should be treated more conservatively.
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may develop in pets after eating chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate due to the high fat content.
What happens if a dog eats chocolate?
Smaller amounts of chocolate may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea in pets.
In more extreme cases, chocolate poisoning may cause severe agitation, tachycardia (elevated heart rate), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, seizures, and collapse.
If your dog ate chocolate, act immediately. First, call your vet and start treatment as soon as possible. When you arrive, your vet will induce vomiting and give multiple doses of activated charcoal to aid in decontamination. If needed sedatives may be given to help keep your pet calm. IV fluids may also be administered to aid with excretion.
In more serious cases, heart medications may be given to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, along with anti-convulsants for seizures and antacids (such as Pepcid) for stomach discomfort and diarrhea.
Once the theobromine has been flushed, it may be reabsorbed across the bladder wall, so a urinary catheter or frequent walks are needed to keep the bladder empty.
Pets who ate a small amount of chocolate typically recover quickly with little or no issue. Symptoms may include a mild upset stomach.
Pets presenting mild symptoms of chocolate poisoning (like mild stomach upset or restlessness), have an excellent prognosis.
Pets showing severe signs of poisoning such as collapse, or seizures have a poor prognosis.
|White chocolate||0.25 mg/oz||0.85 mg/oz|
|Milk chocolate||44-60 mg/oz||6 mg/oz|
|Dark semisweet||135 mg/oz||20 mg/oz|
|Unsweetened baker’s chocolate||390-450 mg/oz||47 mg/oz|
|Dry cocoa powder||400-737 mg/oz||70 mg/oz|
|Cocoa beans||300-1500 mg/oz||–|
|Cocoa bean mulch||56-900 mg/oz||–|