Perhaps you’ve thought about what might happen if your dog ate chocolate. Pet owners often avoid giving their animals foods such as onions, garlic, rhubarb, grapes, and chocolate because of the risk of poisoning. Chocolate poisoning is a common problem year after year. Numerous dogs have eaten chocolate without showing any negative consequences. If chocolate is so bad for canines, then how come they don’t always get sick? Learn more about the real risk of dogs and chocolate toxicity below:

Risks of Chocolate Poisoning

The risk of poisoning is directly proportional to the amount of chocolate consumed. Theobromine and caffeine, found in cocoa beans, are stimulants and are toxic to dogs. Theobromine takes an extended amount of time to break down in the body, allowing them to build in the system and have negative effects, making them dangerous for dogs. Dogs reach their maximum blood level of caffeine within 30-60 minutes, but it takes 17.5 hours to eliminate half of the theobromine they ingest. The high fat and sugar content in chocolate can also make dogs sick and uncomfortable. 

The risks increase dramatically if your dog is a smaller size and/or has health issues and eats a considerable amount of chocolate. Numerous more issues may arise due to the accelerated heart rate and heightened nervous system activity.

What Are the Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity? 

Theobromine’s toxicity primarily affects the central nervous system, with secondary effects on the heart and kidneys. Depending on how much theobromine is in the chocolate typically affects the symptoms and how severe they are. 

Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include: 

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

Chocolate Toxicity Treatment 

How much and what sort of chocolate a dog eats will determine how they should be treated. Decontamination, such as inducing vomiting and giving activated charcoal, might reduce the likelihood of theobromine absorption if administered quickly enough. Repeated treatments with activated charcoal may decrease theobromine reabsorption and recirculation.

Supportive interventions, such as IV fluid therapy, are typically successful in stabilizing a dog and encouraging theobromine excretion. After giving your dog chocolate, keep a close eye on them for signs of distress, such as agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and a rapid or abnormal heart rate or high blood pressure. Medication is an option for treating restlessness and other symptoms.

Who Should You Call in Case of a Dog Health Emergency? 

If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, call the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline® and your veterinarian. Take your dog to the clinic immediately if they ate a substantial amount that may poison them. Starting treatment as soon as possible is best for your dog’s recovery.