Despite being a tasty treat for people, ingesting even the smallest amount of chocolate can be extremely hazardous to your dogs’ health. All types of chocolate are toxic to dogs. And, in rare cases, dogs can die from eating chocolate.
If your dog ate chocolate, contact your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian.
Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?
Chocolate contains a class of chemicals known as methylxanthines (specifically caffeine and theobromine). These chemicals are known for their effects on the heart and muscles.
When a dog eats chocolate, their body cannot process these chemicals the same way our bodies can. This leads to increased sensitivity to the chemicals’ toxic effects.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Chocolate?
Just like in humans, dogs can develop allergies to anything they eat. But the bigger concern with chocolate ingestion in dogs is toxicity.
What Are the Effects of Chocolate on Dogs?
The signs of chocolate toxicity can occur quickly (within one to two hours), or they may take hours to develop. Once symptoms are present, they can last anywhere from several hours to days.
Hospitalization and supportive care may be required, depending on the severity of signs that your dog is experiencing. Signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs may include:
Restless or anxious behavior
Racing or increased heart rate
Abnormal heart rhythm
The extent of chocolate’s effect and how toxic chocolate can be for your dog depends on a few factors.
Which Types of Chocolate Are More Toxic for Dogs?
All types of chocolate can be toxic to dogs, but the amount of chocolate and type ingested are important factors to consider, because the concentration of caffeine and theobromine can vary.
In general, darker, more bitter chocolate is the most dangerous for dogs. This is because dark chocolate contains more theobromine per ounce when compared to other types of chocolate.
How Much Chocolate Is Toxic to Dogs?
You can use these details below to help calculate your dog’s risk and the potential symptoms you might see. To use it, you must know (or estimate):
Type of chocolate
Your dog’s weight
Amount of chocolate ingested
The list below includes the estimated amounts of theobromine in each type of chocolate in milligrams (mg) per ounce (oz).
Cacao beans: 300-1500 mg/oz.
Cocoa powder: 400-737 mg/oz.
Unsweetened baking chocolate: 390-450 mg/oz.
Dark chocolate: 135 mg/oz.
Milk chocolate: 44-60 mg/oz.
White chocolate: 0.25 mg/oz.
In general, darker, more bitter chocolate is the most dangerous for dogs.
Your dog’s weight is also an important factor to consider, along with the type and amount of chocolate eaten.
A 10-pound dog that eats a smaller amount of dark chocolate may experience more severe signs and require more care compared to a 10-pound dog that eats a larger quantity of milk chocolate.
What To Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate
If your dog ingests chocolate, call a veterinarian right away. Do not wait until you see symptoms of chocolate toxicity to appear. Your vet can help determine if the amount ingested is toxic and what the best course of action is.
Keep your dog calm and safe while you await care and advice. The veterinarian may give instructions to induce vomiting at home or may recommend immediate care at the clinic.
Treatments that may be administered by a vet include:
Activated charcoal (to prevent further absorption of the toxin from the gut)
Passage of a stomach tube (to remove toxin directly from the stomach)
Intravenous fluids (to help with hydration and cardiovascular support)
Other therapies aimed at controlling specific clinical signs
The overall prognosis for a dog that ate chocolate is generally good with quick and efficient care.
Storing chocolate in a safe place (even the refrigerator) and educating others in the house not to feed chocolate to dogs is the best prevention.