Human chocolate is toxic to dogs. You don’t have to be an experienced dog owner to know that certain human foods are highly dangerous for dogs.
Yes, certain food items are safe to share with dogs, such as carrots and cucumber, while there are food items that can not only lead to diarrhea in dogs but may lead to more severe health conditions and even fatal outcomes.
Before we elaborate more on why chocolate is so dangerous for dogs, know that signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours.
To notice any unusual (and dangerous) behavior in your dog know how he behaves when he is at his healthiest.
Important: If you want to reward your dog with chocolate, make sure that you serve your dog only chocolate that is specially made for dogs.
If you still find it hard to believe that chocolate is dangerous to dogs, keep on reading.
Chocolate poisoning in dogs is not a myth, and also isn’t uncommon. Keeping chocolate away from dogs is an everyday challenge, and requires additional devotion during the holiday session.
Chocolate poisoning in dogs is highest around the holiday session. That being said, did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day at the veterinarian’s office?
This usually happens because people are very jolly and relaxed, and dogs are ready to eat anything that drops from the table.
As a rule of thumb, pay extra attention to what your dogs eat around any holiday that involves sweets, such as Easter and Halloween.
What should you do if your dog ate chocolate? What are the symptoms that you should be mindful of?
What if your dog ate an enormous amount of sweets, especially chocolate, what should you do? Here is what you need to know.
My Dog Ate Chocolate. What Do I Do?
If this happens you may need to take your dog for an urgent visit to the vet.
To be efficient in risky situations, know your vet’s working hours and how to reach Pet Poison Helpline.
To assist your veterinarian in helping your dog you should know what kind of chocolate your dog ate and how much he ate.
If you have a large size dog, and he ate a really small amount of chocolate, you should tell the vet so a proper toxicity level may be calculated.
There are many online chocolate toxicity calculators that can help you evaluate a dog’s risk after eating chocolate.
Even if your dog ate a really small amount of chocolate you should still contact a veterinarian.
The best way to help your dog when it comes to chocolate poisoning is to react fast since there is no one-kind-of-antidote when it comes to chocolate poisoning.
Veterinarians might try to induce vomiting to get the chocolate out and provide treatment for any symptoms.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Chocolate?
Just like humans, when dogs are exposed to any toxic substances their bodies will react accordingly.
Two major factors here are the dog’s size and the amount of chocolate that dog ingested. These two factors will define how great or not your dog might react.
Any dog may experience symptoms that range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and sudden death.
Know that symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours after your dog has eaten it. These symptoms may last up to 72 hours.
Here are the signs that are common indicators of chocolate poisoning:
- Increased urination
- Elevated or abnormal heart rate
- Collapse and death
Good to know: Senior dogs and dogs with heart conditions are more at risk of sudden death due to chocolate poisoning.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate: Home Remedies
Below we will list some of the best ways that you can help your dog at home.
Bear in mind that your best solution is to contact your veterinarian for medical advice. In any potentially life-threatening situation, you should contact your veterinarian (or any other) first.
If you cannot reach the vet’s office, call the Pet Poison Helpline.
Once you reach professionals they will ask you about your dog’s symptoms and walk you through what you should do.
They will also tell if you should include any home remedies or not. That being said, here are some of the most common home remedies that can help your Fido when it comes to chocolate poisoning.
1. Induce Vomiting
Inducing vomiting isn’t something that should be taken too lightly, nor something that you should perform frequently because you should know how to perform it safely.
The good thing about vomiting is that it is one of the best ways to help your dog after he ate something as toxic as chocolate.
Through vomiting, you can eliminate the chocolate. Bear in mind that inducing vomiting should be an option only if your dog ate the chocolate in the last hour and no neurological symptoms (tremors) have been presented yet.
In most cases, vomiting should be done with a syringe or a dropper (it helps to have dog first aid kit).
On how to induce vomiting safely, check the video at the end of this article.
2. Use Ipecac
In most cases, your veterinarian might advise you to administer ipecac syrup. This is a helpful drug that should safely trigger vomiting in dogs of any size and weight.
As expected, you will have to be careful about dosage and follow guidelines. Like that is the case with most drugs, you will have to serve a dose that is based on your dog’s weight.
In most cases, a quarter or a teaspoon should be enough to trigger vomiting.
3. Use Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide
Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide is something that everyone usually keeps in their homes, no matter if there is a dog around or not.
It is used as a mild antiseptic that can prevent infections of minor cuts and scrapes. This is how it is often used in humans, while for dogs it can help in life-threatening situations.
Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to trigger vomiting in dogs if you do not have ipecac on hand reach. Your veterinarian might suggest you use this solution in equal parts.
Do not assume the dosage, but instead choose to check it with your veterinarian first.
In general, a tablespoon for every ten pounds of a dog’s body weight should be right. Another important part of triggering vomiting in dogs is activity.
You need to engage your dog in a bit of physical activity to get things moving. Think in terms of walking your dog so gets to pee or poop – walking should help to kickstart vomiting.
As a general rule, once you give your dog a solution, you should wait between 15 to 20 minutes to see if your dog begins to throw up.
If Fido doesn’t throw up after 20 minutes of the first dose, you are allowed to administer another dose.
Again, you should wait for a short 15 to 20 minutes. If nothing happens after the second one, do not administer the third one. Take your dog to the vet clinic instead.
4. Administer Activated Charcoal
Vomiting should get the chocolate from your dog’s body, but there are still chances that the chocolate has already entered your dog’s bloodstream. This is something that you can expect if the chocolate has been in your dog’s stomach for a long time.
To cover this scenario you should deal with what might still be inside. That being said, you need to think about after-vomiting steps.
Once you have triggered vomiting, you may give your dog activated charcoal, but only if your veterinarian allows it.
Activated charcoal will bind to theobromine and cause it to pass through the dog’s system without any major issues.
How much-activated charcoal should you give to your dog? Most veterinarians will suggest that you administer about 1 gram of charcoal powder and mix it with 5 milliliters of water per 2.2 pounds or 1 kilogram of dog body weight.
In the case of an emergency, it can be challenging to measure everything precisely, which is why it’s helpful to know that 5 milliliters of water is, typically, one teaspoon of water.
Small size dogs usually need one tablespoon, while larger size dogs could need two tablespoons, but make sure that you listen to your vet’s directions this one.
Helpful Tips On Administer Activated Charcoal To Dogs
When it comes to administering activated charcoal to your dog you should know that this should never be your first solution, or move that you should make without your vet’s guidelines.
In fact, this solution should be your last-ditch effort to trigger vomiting in your dog.
If you have to use it, be mindful of the following points:
- Never give activated charcoal to a dog that is vomiting
- Never give activated charcoal to a dog in any kind of tremors or seizuring
- Activated charcoal can leave permanent stains on anything it falls on, so be careful when using it
- Activated charcoal is not without side effects, so always monitor your dog closely once you apply it
Now, let’s learn why chocolate is so bad for dogs.
Why Chocolate Is Toxic to Dogs
Chocolate is packed with ingredients that human bodies can tolerate, but dogs cannot.
Specifically speaking, chocolate is packed with a chemical called theobromine which is extremely toxic for dogs.
Theobromine is something that humans can easily digest and tolerate, which is why it is not a threat to the human body. This compound is held in human bodies for only a few hours, while it remains in dogs’ bodies for up to 18 hours.
Saying that theobromine is dangerous to dogs isn’t enough, because it affects the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system.
Next to theobromine chocolate is rich in caffeine, which easily stimulates the dog’s nervous system.
How sick your dog will become after eating chocolate will depend on three factors:
- The amount of chocolate your dog ate
- Your dog’s size
- Weight of the dog
Now, you may ask – why is the type of chocolate important? Different types of chocolate will contain higher or lower amounts of theobromine.
Here are different types of chocolate, listed from having the highest theobromine level to the lowest:
- Cocoa powder (most toxic)
- Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
Knowing how much chocolate your dog ate and what kind should help your veterinarian react appropriately and provide the most effective advice.
All in all, these two factors should help your veterinarian determine if you have an emergency or not.
Eating a really small amount of chocolate, like a crumb, probably won’t kill your dogs (especially if your Fido is a larger breed) but you should still avoid and never serve it as treat.
As mentioned earlier in this article you are allowed to serve in moderation chocolate that is specially designed for dogs.
Otherwise, you can always opt for a dog-safe alternative to chocolate is carob, which is easy to digest to dogs and equally delicious.
How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog?
There is no straight answer to this question. It all depends on the dog’s zie, the chocolate amount, and the type of chocolate that your Fido ate.
The only fair and honest, answer here is that ‘it depends.’
Some dog experts or those who are professionals in the field of nutrition might tell you that a standard-sized dark chocolate bar would definitely put your dog in a high-risk situation.
At least that is the case if your dog is a smaller size dog who weighs between 11 to 26 pounds.
All in all, for a small dog two and a half standard milk chocolate bars, is enough to be a lethal dose.
What if your dog eats just a bit, and experiences some mild symptoms?
How Long Does It Take A Dog To Recover After Eating Chocolate?
If your dog eats just a bit of chocolate, he probably won’t have any serious issues.
We are talking here about a tiny piece of chocolate, as anything beyond that will definitely lead to some sort of heavy health disturbance.
However, if your dog eats just a bit, you can expect him to recover for some period. In most cases, dogs will take up to three days to recover from chocolate poisoning.
Did Your Dog Eat A Toxic Amount Of Chocolate?
If you suspect that your dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate, you need to do what every responsible dog owner would do – do not panic.
It is up to you to remain calm, check your dog, learn how much he ate, what type of chocolate he ingests, and react appropriately.
If you think that your dog ingested a dangerous amount of chocolate, you need to stay calm, until you speak with your veterinarian.
The only person that can walk you through in a safe manner in this kind of situation is your veterinarian.
To know if your dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate or not, you can use the toxic calculator listed earlier on or think in terms of Labrador Retriever.
For example, if a dog of Labrador Retriever’s size eats a single M&M he should be fine.
If you know for sure that your dog ate some chocolate and you notice him experiencing seizures, know that your dog is in great danger.
Seizures are one of the most severe symptoms of extreme chocolate toxicity in dogs.
If your dog displays any symptoms of seizures, it may mean that the toxicity will become fatal without veterinary treatment, which is why you need always to think about reaching your veterinarian first.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Chocolate?
Prevention is the key when it comes to having a healthy dog. You can provide the best care possible, and your dog still may get sick. This is why you should put your focus on prevention.
To keep your mind at ease, you can always invest in great pet insurance which can be a true financial saver in most challenging situations.
When it comes to food and dogs, you should do your best to learn which human foods are bad for dogs, and which are OK to serve from time to time.
Know that no matter how certain food might be safe, it should still be served in moderation and following your vet’s guidelines.
If you have any doubts regarding your dog’s diet, overall nutrition, and any diet-related questions, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.
Here are some simple, but effective ways to prevent your dog from eating chocolate:
- Put it away. It may sound too simple, but is one of the most effective ways to keep your dog away from chocolate. Keep any cholate item away from your dog’s reach.
- Teach “leave it”. Have your dog mastering basic commands, including command ‘leave it. Dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age, so include this command in the obedience program.
- Crate train your dog. Crate training can be handy when it comes to keeping your dog healthy during the holiday season. Another option is to keep him next to the table but to allow him to enjoy a Kong, or Kong-like toy packed with dog treats, to keep him entertained.
The Bottom Line
Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and you should do your best to keep them away from this sweet food.
If you want to serve your dog a new treat or enrich his diet a bit, focus on introducing foods that are 100% safe for dogs. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid human foods entirely, but you should which is OK to serve, and which are better ut off.
For example, you can mix fresh carrot (or even better a cooked one) with dry dog food for a new flavor. Another common way to enrich a dog’s daily menu is to include a raw egg over dry food or a tablespoon of salmon oil.
As for the treats, you should mostly focus on treats that are specially designed for dogs.
You can serve your dog chocolate if it’s specially designed for dogs, and devoid of human chocolate no matter what.
As explained in this article, a super small piece of chocolate should not harm you, but better be safe than sorry, and avoid any chocolate consumption.