Chocolate poisoning is all too common in pets, especially dogs, because of their curious nature. This treat many of us love so much can be very toxic to dogs if ingested as it contains theobromine and caffeine, two chemicals not easily metabolized by dogs. However, certain types of chocolate are more toxic than others. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity. Dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine and caffeine than milk chocolate, and milk chocolate has a higher concentration than white chocolate. Learn about the signs of your dog eating chocolate below.

How Toxic Is Chocolate to Dogs?

The toxicity of chocolate depends on the dosage. While your dog eating a single M&M may not call for an emergency visit to the vet, eating an entire chocolate bar can be potentially fatal. Other ingredients of chocolate, like the high fat and sugar content, can also be harmful to dogs. The sugar irritates your pooch, and the fat can sometimes cause pancreatitis, a life-threatening disease in dogs.

Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning

The tell-tale signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs depend on your dog’s size and the type of chocolate ingested. It is important to monitor your dog for any changes in behavior or clinical signs. Some symptoms your dog has eaten chocolate may include:

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

Treating Chocolate Poisoning

Treatment of chocolate poisoning usually involves some administration of activated charcoal and induced vomiting. This will help get rid of the remaining chocolate in your dog’s body. IV fluids may also be administered to help with the excretion of theobromine and heart medications to reduce blood pressure. If you notice any signs that your dog has eaten chocolate, get your dog to the nearest veterinary clinic or call Pet Poison Helpline® at 855-764-7661 for medical assistance.