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Written by Vet Tech

Why Is Chocolate Dangerous For Dogs? (And What To Do If They Eat It)

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and we will explain to you why. Read on to see why you should never give your dog this human treat.

When it comes to dangerous food items for dogs, many of us are aware that chocolate is on that list. While many people know to keep chocolate out of their dog’s reach, most are unaware of why exactly chocolate is dangerous for our furry friends.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of why chocolate is so toxic for dogs, and what to do if your dog accidentally eats any.

The Toxic Ingredient In Chocolate

When dogs have toxicity to chocolate, it’s the chemicals in the chocolate that they are reacting to. Chocolate contains a chemical component called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine.

Including theobromine and caffeine in each chocolate snack, this makes it extremely dangerous to dogs.

While these chemicals aren’t toxic to us, dogs lack the ability to metabolize these substances. This leads to these harmful chemicals circulating the body, leading to concerning symptoms that can ultimately affect the heart.

Picture the worst caffeine-induced panic attack that you can imagine, and that will be similar to what a dog experiences during chocolate ingestion.

The Symptoms Of Chocolate Ingestion In Dogs

Since eating chocolate essentially causes a “caffeine overdose” in dogs, you can expect to see symptoms that mirror this.

Common symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs include:

These symptoms will vary depending on how much chocolate is ingested, and how quickly you act upon catching the ingestion.

If a large dog eats a few Hershey kisses, then they will likely get away with minor gastrointestinal upset. However, if a small dog eats gets a hold of a dark chocolate candy bar, this ingestion can result in serious neurological episodes.

While every single chocolate ingestion should be taken seriously no matter how much chocolate they consume, we’ll dive into the specifics of toxic chocolate amounts in dogs.

Different Types Of Chocolate Have Different Toxic Levels

When it comes to chocolate, not every candy bar is created equal in the eyes of your canine companion.

Some types of chocolate may cause a simple bout of diarrhea in your furry friend, while others can lead to a serious toxic reaction.

Cocoa, bakers chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest amount of theobromine, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest.

While it’s generally better for your dog to have consumed a milk chocolate candy bar versus a dark chocolate candy bar, the “safer” chocolate can still be dangerous.

No matter what type of snack that your pup gets their paws on, it’s best to give your vet a call.

What Is The Toxic Amount Of Chocolate In Dogs?

While we recommend speaking with your vet no matter how much chocolate your dog consumes, there are some statistics when it comes to toxic levels of chocolate per weight range in dogs. Toxic reactions to chocolate in dogs has been seen in as little as 20mg/kg of theobromine.

Below is the toxic level of theobromine per weight range:

Dog’s WeightMilk Chocolate (ozs)Chocolate chips (ozs)Unsweetened Chocolate (ozs)Theobromine (mg)

What Do You Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If you fear that your dog eats chocolate, try not to panic. There are a few ways you can handle the situation and lessen the possibility of a toxic reaction. Some of these options include:

1. Call Your Vet

The most important thing to do is to contact your local vet. Whether this is your current veterinarian or an after-hours emergency vet, they will be able to instruct you on how to handle the situation.

If you are aware of the amount that they consumed, they will have information on whether this amount is toxic with your dog’s average weight range.

While some amounts will be so small that they instruct you not to worry, other amounts may be dangerous and require fast treatment.

No matter what, it’s always best to get your veterinarian’s opinion. They can also instruct you on how to handle the situation based on how long ago your dog ate the chocolate.

2. Induce Vomiting At Home

If your dog eats a dangerous amount of chocolate, you will want to induce vomiting as quickly as you can. While you should still contact your vet ahead of time, there is an approved at-home method using hydrogen peroxide.

Keep in mind that some vets do not recommend this method any longer due to the possibility of aspiration, which is why it’s best to contact your vet first.

If they do recommend inducing vomiting at home, they will give you a recommended dose of hydrogen peroxide for your dog that will cause them to vomit within 10 minutes.

3. Go To The Vet

If you fear that your dog has ingested chocolate, visiting the vet is the safest route.

Your vet can give an IV injection that is sure to make your pup vomit within seconds, while the at-home hydrogen peroxide method does not work on all dogs. This IV injection is foolproof, meaning less time will be wasted.

It’s also important to consider the time frame in which your dog ate the chocolate.

If you fear that your dog has consumed the chocolate 1 hour ago or longer, they will need to be seen regardless. At that point, the chocolate has also begun to absorb.

Visiting The Vet

When you visit the vet with your pup that just ate chocolate, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

While there is a standard treatment for chocolate ingestion in dogs, having all of the details will help your vet treat your furry friend.

  • Remember that time is the essence. You’ll want to contact your vet as soon as you realize that your dog has consumed chocolate. Since every minute counts when it comes to removing a possible toxin from their system, you don’t want to sit around and wait to see if they are okay. Waiting can just result in a toxic reaction.
  • If your dog has not consumed the wrapper or packaging of the chocolate, make sure to bring it with you. It will be extremely helpful for your vet to see the exact amount of chocolate that is in the food they consumed. By seeing the ounces of chocolate that are present, they can understand how seriously they need to treat the situation.
  • If your dog consumed the wrapper during their chocolate raid, try to research the ingredients on your own. You’ll know more than your veterinarian the type of candy bar that you purchased at the store, so it’s important to try your best to gather information on the product.
  • Even if your dog has already vomited at home are you are able to induce vomiting on your own, it’s still best to speak with your vet. Some dogs will remain nauseases as time passes, while others will still display symptoms after vomiting. It’s just safer for your furry friend to cover all your bases.

The Bottom Line

While it can be frightening to realize that your beloved companion raided your chocolate stash, there’s no need to panic.

Make sure to call your vet right away for a plan of action, and your dilemma will soon have a solution!