Many of us can agree that chocolate is a delightful snack, and it’s not just the sweet taste that makes it so agreeable to many people. Chocolate also serves other means for humans; it contains high levels of antioxidants which can help reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But what happens to dogs if they eat chocolate? Let’s find out. 

Can Chocolate Poison A Dog? 

Chocolate contains theobromine and, to a lesser degree, caffeine, which are two similar chemical compounds that are both toxic to dogs. Humans can metabolize theobromine and caffeine rapidly, so the strong effects of both compounds are mostly lost on us. However, our furry friends are not so lucky. Because of their inability to metabolize and assimilate this compound, the chemicals accumulate in their system if a dog eats chocolate, reaching a point where the negative effects become noticeable. 

It is important to note that darker chocolate types are less processed; hence they contain a higher content of theobromine and caffeine than sweet and lighter types, which contain fewer cocoa solids and have lots of added sugars and milk. 

Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning 

The clinical signs that show you that your dog has eaten chocolate may vary depending on the type of chocolate, the quantity consumed, and your dog’s breed. For example, larger dog breeds can usually tolerate theobromine and caffeine in tiny quantities better than smaller dogs can. 

 Common symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include: 

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

Treating Chocolate Poisoning 

Treatment of chocolate poisoning may include any of the following: 

  • Induced vomiting to eliminate chocolate still in the gut 
  • Sedatives to stop agitation and restlessness 
  • Heart medication to address increased heart rate and blood pressure 
  • Antacids for stomach upset 
  • Anticonvulsants to arrest seizures 
  • IV fluids to help excretion of theobromine 

It may take up to 72 hours for the chocolate to fully leave the system, but with prompt treatment, your dog should be able to make a full recovery from chocolate poisoning. Call Pet Poison Helpline® immediately at (855) 764-7661 or contact your closest veterinary clinic for medical assistance if you notice any of the associated signs of chocolate poison in your pet.