What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Chocolate

October 29, 2010  
Filed under Dog Health Tips

There is currently a myth circulating among dog owners that chocolate is not actually toxic to dogs. In actuality, it is a proven scientific fact that YES, chocolate is poisonous to dogs, sometimes even inducing a fatal reaction. Under no circumstances should you allow your dog to ingest chocolate, or any substance that contains chocolate. This is a very serious mistake, and can result in chocolate toxicity in your dog. Here is some general information that will allow you to understand why chocolate is toxic for dogs, the symptoms of chocolate toxicity, and what to do if your dog ingests chocolate.

WHY IS CHOCOLATE BAD FOR DOGS?

The toxic substances in chocolate that affect dogs are methylxanthine alkaloids. These alkaloids are in the form of caffeine and theobromine, which can cause many serious health effects in dogs. Certain types of chocolate have higher levels of these substances, which can affect how severe your dog’s symptoms are after ingestion. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthine alkaloids, while baking and dark chocolate have the highest level of these substances. In a 16 pound dog, the toxic dose of chocolate can be as little as one pound of milk chocolate. The effect in dogs is that the methylxanthine alkaloids stimulate the central nervous system, which in effect increases the heart rate of your dog. This is what causes the many symptoms that result from chocolate toxicity in dogs.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CHOCOLATE TOXICITY?

There are several key symptoms that can help you to recognize if your dog is currently experiencing a chocolate toxicity reaction. The most common symptoms are restlessness, increased urination, rapid heart rate, moderate to severe anxiety, seizures, asthmatic attacks, bloating, gastrointestinal distress, severe thirst and increased body temperature. If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is best to bring them to the veterinarian immediately. Symptoms usually manifest from six to twelve hours after ingestion of chocolate. Even if your dog does not display any symptoms after ingesting chocolate, it is still strongly advised that you bring them to the veterinarian.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DOG CONSUMES CHOCOLATE?

The best thing that you can do for your dog in the event of chocolate toxicity is to induce vomiting. However, prior to inducing vomiting, it is highly recommended that you contact your veterinarian. Most veterinary professionals will be able to advise you about what immediate action you should take, depending on the type and severity of your dog’s symptoms. If your veterinarian recommends that you immediately induce vomiting, they will usually advise you to accomplish this by administering a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly into your dog’s mouth. If you have any reservations about doing this on your own, it is always highly recommended that you follow the instructions of your veterinarian. After bringing your dog in for direct veterinary care, treatment will usually involve the administration of activated charcoal in your dog’s stomach in order to absorb any remaining toxins. This treatment is usually very effective, and can prevent your dog from suffering serious complications that may result from chocolate toxicity.

Has your dog ever ingested chocolate?  Please share your story and post a comment below!

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Comments

22 Responses to “What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Chocolate”
  1. Neil Clark says:

    I would say that the FIRST thing to do if your dog ingests chocolate is DO NOT PANIC…

    Much of what I’ve seen written about canines and chocolate would have you believe that it is the next-most-toxic substance to rat poison – and that you need to break speed-limits and disregard RED traffic signals to rush the animal to a vet (and spend multiple-hundreds of dollars) to have its stomach pumped.

    As one who’s dogs gobbled-down 2-1/2 pounds of premium chocolate candy in one `sitting’, take a deep breath… induce vomiting with several courses of hydrogen peroxide squirted gently into their slightly up-turned muzzles (to avoid aspiration); one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight is recommended (
    http://www.petplace.com/dogs/how-to-induce-vomiting-emesis-in-dogs/page1.aspx) – easiest if you have- or pick up an oral syringe. 3- to 4 doses administered every 10 minutes – with moderate walking (up- and especially DOWNstairs worked best for me) to make sure the peroxide works its foamy magic.

    The after teh second dose the doggie gets that distinctive `…I don’t feel so good…’ look, and the deed is usually accomplished the next dose.

    Try to ascertain how much the dog consumed, and compare that quantity to what comes up…a repeat course might be necessary to cleanse the stomach.

  2. Brent Harte says:

    Our staff is dedicated to research on dog nutrition which includes toxins, acute or continuing exposure. Chocolate is toxic as indicated by this blog. I commend this forum for recommending and instructing people on inducing vomiting. Information sources that report how dangerous chocolate is usually fall back on the easy suggestion to call your vet.

  3. Roger P. says:

    Is this mistake?
    “In a 16 pound dog, the toxic dose of chocolate can be as little as one pound of milk chocolate.”

    If a 16lb dog can have a pound of chocolate… that would mean my dog could eat 4 pounds?

  4. admin says:

    That is correct in terms of milk chocolate, not the case with dark chocolate which is much more potent. My 90 pound dog once ingested 5 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate, and although he did vomit he did not suffer any major health problems.

  5. C says:

    My German Shepherd ate all the chocolate candy my son collected on Halloween, which was a lot! We only noticed in the morning that the kid left the bag of candy on the table, and that the dog helped herself to it, leaving many wrapers on the floor. The dog also stole our pumpking pie and the cherry pie we made fresh for Thanksgiving Day and left on the top of the stove to cool…Fortunately, the dog was fine everytime. We took her to the vet after she ate chocolate, and the vet administered the medication to induce vomiting. We waited for a long time, then the vet gave up. She said it’s the first time a dog doesn’t vomit after receiving that dose….We ended up paying close to $200 for the visit to the vet, the dog ate the chocolate, took the medication, didn’t vomit any of it..She is fine.

  6. Stacy says:

    When my puppy was about 6 months old, she decided to get into a grocery bag with a caramel Milky Way, a half eaten caramel Milky Way, and 3 Cadbury creme eggs! I was so worried, but thankfully, it was not enough to hurt her. She didn’t throw up or have any health problems because of it. We are a lot more careful about her getting to any type of chocolate though!

    Thanks for the facts.

  7. Pete says:

    I was on a trip to Canada and brought home 40 of my families favorite chocolate bars. I neatly stacked them on the counter so my wife would be surprised.
    I came back about a half hour later to find only 4 bars left. After checking with my daughter who didn’t move the chocolate bars, I started looking for the dog. (80 lb Weimaraner)
    I found him lying upside down in the back yard. I thought he was dead. When I went outside, he got up and acted as if nothing had happened. It turned out he was just sunning himself after eating 36 candy bars. He was quite happy. I didn’t bother to call the vet this time.
    We did after he ate 2 Easter Baskets of high quality chocolate. The vet asked if he looked O.K? When we told him he did, he said not to worry.
    It turned out this dog loved chocolate. We didn’t intentionally feed him any, but no chocolate was safe in our house. He got the Haloween candy and carefully ate all the chocolate, leaving everything else.
    Go Figure.

  8. admin says:

    That’s quite the story Pete. From my experience, it takes a huge amount of chocolate to really do any damage, especially if it’s milk chocolate. Darker chocolate is much more potent however. My dog got to the point of vomiting and tipping over from 5lbs. of 50% dark chocolate but never suffered any permanent problems.

  9. Lisa says:

    I think the chocolate issue is the same as with humans, some people are just allergic to some food and some dogs may have reaction to chocolate.
    I am 44 and we had dogs all my life, my mom had a german shepard and a doberman she used to make them a plate of fudge to share and they never got sick once, they both lived to be over 12yrs old and never had any health problems other then the usual age related things. They also ate only table scraps.

  10. Garnet says:

    The other night one of my Shih Tzu puppies got the lid off of some chocolate B$J’s.. the people were having some and since there wasnt much on the lid I decided to let them have it.. Sasha got most of it and that night I woke up with him yipping which was completely unusual.. I took him outside and he seemed ok so I went back to bed. That morning when I got up I found several places where he threw up after I let him back in..when I went to ck on him he had thrown up again. He was listless and definitely not his usual self so I decided to take him to the vet.. (although he is fully vaccinated we have had a parvo scare in this area) so the vet checked him out.. droopy, slightly subnormal temp and slightly dehydrated so they gave him fluid and some anti nausea meds and I took him home. At lunchtime he was still droopy but when I got home from work he was back to normal and practically leaping over the puppy fence. I didn’t think about the chocolate ice-cream lid until later but you can be sure I will never ever take that risk again.

  11. Principle says:

    Another way to reduce toxicity of poisons is to feed the dog vitamin C! Feed the dog some burnt toast or burnt dog treats and give them real vitamin C, not the synthetic crap. The synthetic absorbic acid is very acidic and will cause stomach problems with limited absorption, but whole food vitamin C is much less acidic and will be absorbed much better. Ester C is also much better if readily available. Raw or human table scraps may provide a dog with many more nutrients than commercial dog food which is why they often have better immunity and live longer.

    Vitamin C reduces poison toxicity, and dogs don’t make enough of their own Vitamin C, so add it to their food regularly as well.

  12. pets says:

    My dog ate three kisses maybe 4 or 5 kisses i gave him a glass of warm milk but i am still worried…………

  13. Casey says:

    3 Hershey’s Kisses should be fine; they’re pretty low in chocolate. I’d be more worried about the sugar content.

    Also, water is the better option; dogs are lactose-intolerant.

  14. Arwen says:

    I have a similar experience – our beagle Maggie, aka Hoover, found a huge box with Valentine’s chocolates, got the cellophane off, opened the box, ate all the pieces out of their individual wrappings, and we never knew it until several days later. This dog takes more kill…

  15. David C says:

    I agree with the first comment that most articles on the net make chocolate out to be the arsenic laced food for dogs and I don’t agree. My Beagle (little rascals that they all are) decided to somehow jump up on the kitchen counter and have a go at a medium sized bowl of chocolate kisses. I’d say somewhere around 15-20 of them. It was late and the vet was closed so we watched her very closely to see if she reacted badly. For the rest of the night and even into the next morning she was way more hyper than usual (sugar high) and had diarrhea. That was the extent of her reaction to the chocolate. Called the vet the next morning and asked what we should do,they said the biggest problems they had with dogs eating chocolate was the wrappers clogging their digestion and that the real problems come when it’s dark chocolate at all or milk chocolate is very large doses. The funny side of this story is that wrappers were not a problem since she beautifully unwrapped every single one and laid out the open wrappers all over the house for us to easily pick up. None of them torn at all, I have no idea how because even I tear the wrappers when eating Hershey Kisses.

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Should you have a concern regarding the diet of your dog, you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is the opinion of the author, and is presented solely for informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving professional veterinary care for your dog(s).
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