Dogs can be quite a handful, but they are also obedient pets.
There’s nothing better than coming home to your dog wagging its tail and excitedly waiting for you!
But with dogs comes some risk.
One of the risks is that they might eat things that aren’t good for them like chocolate.
What do I need to know if my dog eats chocolate?
- Why Can't Dogs Eat Chocolate?
- Will My Dog Be OK After Eating Chocolate?
- How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog?
- How Will I Know If My Dog Has Eaten Chocolate And Is Suffering From Toxicity?
- How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Get Sick After Eating Chocolate?
- If My Dog Ate A Little Bit Of Chocolate Is It Going To Be OK?
- Is Chocolate Powder Dangerous To Dogs?
- My Dog Drank Hot Chocolate. Is It Dangerous?
- Are All Dogs At Risk From Chocolate Poisoning?
- Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
- Is Dark Chocolate Bad For Dogs?
- Can Dogs Eat Hershey's Candy Bars?
- Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Cake Icing?
- Is Every Chocolate Bad For My Dog?
- One Of My Dogs Ate Some Baking Chocolate! What Should I Do?
- My Dog Ate Chocolate – What Should I Do Now?
- How Do Veterinary Specialists Treat Dogs That Have Eaten Chocolate?
- How Can I Prevent This From Happening Again?
- Are There Any Chocolate Products That Are Safe For Dogs?
- Where Can I Learn More About Chocolate Toxicosis?
Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?
I know some people who let their dogs eat what they want.
Dogs and cats are not true omnivores like humans because they cannot produce an enzyme called amylase which is needed to break down carbohydrates found in many types of foods, including chocolate!
Theobromine and caffeine are stimulants and can cause irregular heartbeats as well as nausea or vomiting by stimulating the nervous system.
If your dog has eaten a significant amount of chocolate it will affect the way their heartbeats as well as cause some digestive problems.
Similar to caffeine, dogs cannot metabolize theobromine very effectively and can get sick from ingesting too much of this substance.
Dogs process sugar in their bodies similarly to humans do. They produce an enzyme called glucokinase to manage that task.
As a result, dogs are more prone to getting diabetes than cats are. This risk is increased even further if they eat highly processed foods or sweets like chocolate!
Will My Dog Be OK After Eating Chocolate?
The majority of cases of toxicity from chocolate occur with dogs eating theobromine, a compound found in cocoa beans.
The severity depends on how much your dog eats!
If treated quickly, and depending on how much is eaten, your dog will be fine after you get to the vet.
They might have some stomach upset but will soon feel better when given activated charcoal at the hospital to absorb any toxins and fluids or laxatives for an empty stomach.
How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog?
A 20 kg dog can be poisoned by about 100 g of milk chocolate, and a 10 kg dog can be poisoned by about 50 g. If you have a large breed dog, the amount to kill them could even be less than this!
The toxic dose in dogs is 1 mg/kg per hour up to 9 hours.
Baker’s chocolate is much more dangerous than other types of chocolate because it contains ten times more theobromine than cocoa solids in dark or milk chocolate.
Toxicity occurs when your dog eats 900 mg/kg of theobromine in one sitting on an empty stomach. This means that they need to eat about 5 ounces (about 150 grams) of baker’s chocolate for it to be fatal.
You should know that the amount of theobromine in chocolate varies depending on how it is made and labeled.
The label will tell you how much caffeine as well as other chemicals, like sugar, is present.
If your dog was poisoned by chocolate, call your veterinarian or local poison control center immediately for advice on what to do next!
How Will I Know If My Dog Has Eaten Chocolate And Is Suffering From Toxicity?
There are a number of ways that you might notice that your furry friend is not feeling well.
The first thing you might notice is that your dog seems dazed, lethargic, or even excited.
Then you may realize that their heart rate is low or high as well as breathing difficulties.
If it has been more than 1 hour since consuming the chocolate then vomiting would also be a sign of toxicity along with diarrhea or constipation depending on how much of the chocolate was ingested and what type it was.
These symptoms usually show up within 6 hours after eating the chocolate but could show up immediately or even take up to 24 hours to show.
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Get Sick After Eating Chocolate?
The time that your dog could be sick after eating chocolate can vary.
If it was dark chocolate or a caramel-type substance, it will take longer to get into the bloodstream and for any symptoms to start. Chocolate with nuts in it (like peanut butter) may also delay symptom onset.
While they are waiting for the effects of the theobromine levels in their blood to peak, you should go straight to your vet!
You can stop them from eating anything else so that there is no more risk of negative health effects.
Like humans, dogs need water as well! Make sure you keep providing them with fluids until they are at the veterinary hospital and make sure they pee afterward.
As with all things that your dog eats, if you have any concerns about your dog’s health after eating chocolate, go to the veterinarian immediately and don’t wait!
If My Dog Ate A Little Bit Of Chocolate Is It Going To Be OK?
The number of dogs that have eaten small amounts of chocolate with no ill effects is more common than not.
Small amounts may just cause mild stomach upset and can usually pass through the digestive tract without causing any problems.
This is because caffeine does not stay in the system for long periods of time like theobromine does and is broken down naturally by your dog’s liver.
It takes 4-6 hours for half of what they ingested to get out of their system. If your dog weighs more than 10 kg, it shouldn’t consume any chocolate at all.
If you have a smaller dog that has eaten some chocolate then it might be OK…but it’s always best to go to the vet just in case!
Is Chocolate Powder Dangerous To Dogs?
It is also important to know that theobromine in chocolate powder may be more toxic than liquid chocolate because it will require less volume to have an effect.
This means even a little bit of unsweetened baker’s chocolate may potentially be harmful, depending on the size and weight of your dog.
My Dog Drank Hot Chocolate. Is It Dangerous?
In some cases, a dog may ingest hot chocolate that has not completely cooled down.
It is best to wait until the beverage cools down to room temperature before giving it to your pet; give them something else to drink in the meantime if they are thirsty!
Are All Dogs At Risk From Chocolate Poisoning?
Dogs with heart disease may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of chocolate.
Chocolate can also worsen any conditions that your dog has such as diabetes, gastrointestinal upset, or seizures.
Breeds with short noses (like pugs) and smaller dogs are better at processing theobromine than larger breeds because it dissolves in water faster.
Since they have smaller nasal cavities and less surface area for breathing though, whatever quantity of chocolate is consumed by these types of dogs does not take long for them to feel its effects.
Some dogs need only a small amount of something bad to cause a serious illness!
Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?
White chocolate contains no cocoa solids and therefore is not as likely to be toxic to dogs. Although it may still contain some theobromine, in small amounts that are unlikely to cause a problem.
Is Dark Chocolate Bad For Dogs?
Yes, dark chocolate can be more toxic to dogs than milk chocolate.
This is due to the fact that it contains more cocoa solids, which are harmful when ingested by your pet!
It should be avoided at all costs if you have a dog in your house!
Can Dogs Eat Hershey’s Candy Bars?
Absolutely not!! Most candy bars are made with baker’s chocolate which can cause problems for dogs; instead, offer them something sweet like peanut butter from a spoon.
Remember – whenever your dog is suffering from a potential overdose of anything, GET TO THE VET NOW. You never know when a chocolate wrapper just tossed under the couch will turn into a life-or-death situation.
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Cake Icing?
Chocolate icing can cause problems for your dog if consumed, but the amount has to be a large quantity in order for it to affect them.
Eating an entire cake or eating tons of icing is extremely harmful and can eventually lead to death!
If you suspect that your dog has eaten some chocolate cake or icing then they will benefit from being kept quiet and calm; do not allow them to eat anything else, especially more icing!
Chocolate cake frosting contains a smaller concentration of theobromine than solid baking chocolate, so keep your dogs far away from this!!
Is Every Chocolate Bad For My Dog?
No, and yes – It all depends on their size!
Dogs of small stature (those weighing less than 10 kg) may not need to completely avoid consuming any types of chocolate like they do with baker’s chocolate.
When dealing with a larger-sized canine, it is best not to give them any type of chocolate whatsoever because the effects could potentially be fatal.
The darker the color of the chocolate, the more cocoa solids are in it, and therefore the more poisonous it can be.
Milk chocolate, or white chocolate, is less dangerous than semi-sweet or dark chocolates!
One Of My Dogs Ate Some Baking Chocolate! What Should I Do?
If your dog has eaten an entire bag of baking chocolate they will need to go see their veterinarian immediately for emergency treatment.
It will take 6-8 hours for symptoms to start appearing, but without treatment, they can die within 24 hours!!
Baking chocolate contains a lot more theobromine than other types of chocolates and therefore needs immediate medical attention.
Although there is no antidote to toxic levels of theobromine in dogs, you must act quickly in order to prevent any long-term health problems.
In your dog’s case, you may need to induce vomiting to get rid of the chocolate residue before it is absorbed into their bloodstream!
In addition, many of these dogs will become severely dehydrated and end up with a seizure disorder. They may also develop acute pancreatitis or renal (kidney) failure due to the toxic effects of theobromine.
If your pet starts showing signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, and heart arrhythmias that can be seen on an electrocardiogram then they are having a reaction from the chocolate they ate!
My Dog Ate Chocolate – What Should I Do Now?
Many people don’t realize that there are different types of chocolate – cocoa mulch, baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate – and each type has different ingredients in it which may or may not be harmful to your pet.
If you think your furry friend has eaten any form of this scrumptious treat then it is important not to panic.
First, try to find out which type of chocolate they have eaten. Do this by examining their feces and vomit (if applicable).
You can then call your vet’s office for advice on whether you should bring them in or not.
Should I Make My Dog Vomit After Eating Chocolate?
If your dog has eaten cocoa mulch, hot cocoa mix/instant coffee, baker’s chocolate, or dark chocolate that contains a high level of antioxidants then it might be hard to determine whether or not they are suffering from toxicity.
In these cases, it is always best to check with the veterinarian first as they may recommend inducing vomiting if there is a possibility that the dog indeed ingested some chocolate.
In all other situations, inducing vomiting should be left for the professionals only as this can cause more harm than good in many instances.
It makes sense why dogs cannot metabolize and process chocolate properly – their digestive tract is simply not equipped to handle it!
Your dog’s liver works extra hard trying to break down the chemicals in chocolate and they might not have the energy to handle those that are also in their system.
Theobromine is toxic at very small levels even for humans, so we cannot rely on a dog’s body to be able to cope with it.
If your canine companion has eaten any amount of cocoa mulch, baker’s chocolate, or dark chocolate then do NOT induce vomiting without first consulting your vet!
If you think they have consumed milk chocolate (which is much less dangerous), watch them overnight and visit the vet if necessary. Again, do not induce vomiting without speaking to a professional beforehand!
What If My Dog Ate Chocolate But Seems Fine?
If your pet seems perfectly healthy after eating chocolate then you might be wondering if you should bring them in any way.
It all depends on the type of chocolate that they consumed, and how much!
If it was milk chocolate (the less harmful variety) then there is probably no point in visiting the vet unless you see any changes in their behavior, such as lethargy or slower reflexes.
How To Prepare For A Visit To The Vet
Before leaving home to bring your dog into the veterinary clinic in the event your furry friend has ingested chocolate it is wise to make sure that they have not eaten anything else since their last meal.
This helps ensure that any toxicity from the chocolate will be more apparent in their body and less likely to come out as something else, like gas or vomit.
If your pet has ingested even a small amount of cocoa mulch, hot cocoa mix/instant coffee, baker’s chocolate, or dark chocolate you should take them into the veterinary clinic for an evaluation immediately.
Keep in mind that although these types of chocolates do contain caffeine they don’t pop up on the list of common foods known to cause issues with pets (peanuts).
For this reason, it might be useful to always keep some grains of rice around so if you suspect your dog has consumed any type of chocolate they can at least be tested.
How Do Veterinary Specialists Treat Dogs That Have Eaten Chocolate?
Even though it may seem like a lot of information to handle if your dog has eaten chocolate the good news is that most instances don’t end in death and recovery is not uncommon when the proper treatment is administered.
One of the main treatments for a dog who has eaten chocolate would be inducing vomiting (if necessary).
In some cases, there might also be an option for administering activated charcoal or additional medications, depending on how much cocoa mulch was ingested and what type it was.
How Can I Prevent This From Happening Again?
It’s always best to keep any type of food away from your pets to help avoid mishaps like these.
Other things to keep in mind would be making sure your dog has a lot of water throughout the day, always keeping an eye on them when around food or candy, and even investing in some baby gates to help keep them out of areas that contain these types of treats.
Are There Any Chocolate Products That Are Safe For Dogs?
Dogs love sweet things just as much as humans do, and they love to snack on tasty treats.
Chocolate is a very popular option for pet owners as it does not spoil easily and can be offered in many different forms; however, you might be surprised to learn that there are safer alternatives!
A few words of warning before buying store-bought chocolate for your dog: Please make sure the ingredients say “cocoa” or “chocolate” and not something like ‘cocoa beans’ or cocoa butter, which contain an extract from the cocoa bean (the part of the plant that is used to produce cocoa).
It is important to read the label carefully! Store-bought chocolates that do not contain cocoa or chocolate are not safe for your four-legged friend!
And, although foil-wrapped baking chocolate is tempting to dogs due to its shape and size, please do NOT give them any of the wrappers – remove it first.
Better yet, make homemade dog treats that are both healthy and delicious.
This peanut butter dog bone treats look as if they could be store-bought, but – with a few simple ingredients like flour and cream cheese – you can have some fun in the kitchen making them from scratch!
If you wish to skip the cooking altogether then there are plenty of ready-made wheat-free dog treats available at pet stores. Many of these use ‘cocoa powder’ instead of real chocolate, so it’s important to read the labels before buying.
If you’ve tried to feed your dog homemade treats and they refuse them for some reason, then be sure to give them something that they will eat without any fuss.
Although we all love baking with our dogs in mind, if it seems like your pet is refusing their healthy treat then there’s probably a simple reason why!
Ask Your Vet For Safe Chocolates To Eat
Check with your vet about what types of chocolate are safe for animals to ingest.
As mentioned before theobromine is not included on the list of toxic foods for pets.
However, it isn’t until they reach large doses that you will see a problem so you may want to check with your vet just in the case prior to feeding any type of chocolate treat.
Your pet store might also have additional information regarding how much is too much for animals, although there are no formal guidelines event your dog does have a taste for chocolate.
Where Can I Learn More About Chocolate Toxicosis?
If you would like to read some additional information regarding chocolate toxicosis, check out the petMD page on this topic. It includes some basic information on different types of chocolates and what signs might be seen in your dog if they have ingested any.
This site is a great resource for pet owners who are seeking a conventional (drug-based) solution when it comes to treating their pets.
For those that prefer alternatives to conventional medicine, there are also some other sites that discuss natural methods for helping dogs with caffeine toxicity including homeopathic remedies or ginger treatment protocol.
If you suspect your dog has eaten a significant amount of chocolate (any amount at all) then it is best to go straight to the veterinarian after trying to determine how much your pet ingested.
The vet will check for signs of sickness caused by dietary chocolate ingestion, and will also have special techniques for estimating how much your dog has consumed if they do not know exactly how much.
While there are no specific amounts of chocolate that “can kill” or even be “dangerous to your pet”, it’s always best to err on the side of safety and take them in for a checkup if you suspect they have eaten any at all!