April 13, 2024

What To Do If…

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What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate?

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate?

Many dog owners are unaware of the danger that chocolate poses to their pet. Whilst small amounts may not seem harmful, chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which can be lethal to dogs in high doses. In this post, we will outline what to do if your dog eats chocolate.

Will My Dog Be Ok After Eating Chocolate?

Theobromine, a compound in chocolate that dogs cannot metabolize, is the primary poison to dogs. It varies drastically with a dog’s weight how much chocolate they can eat without becoming ill.

Chocolate consumption by dogs should be monitored closely and veterinary attention should be sought if any symptoms occur, if they are very young, pregnant or if their health is compromised in any other way.

Despite the fact that small amounts of chocolate do not cause your dog to become ill, you should still prevent them from going near it. In one study, repeated exposure to theobromine resulted in cardiomyopathy (a chronic heart muscle disorder that decreases the ability of the heart to pump blood) in dogs.

Many dog owners are able to tell you what foods their dogs cannot eat, including onions, garlic, rhubarb, grapes, and chocolate. It’s common knowledge that dogs cannot consume chocolate safely, but because of their insatiable appetites, many dogs are nevertheless treated for ingesting chocolate every year.

How Much Chocolate Is Fatal to a Dog?

Types of chocolate contain different amounts of toxic theobromine. Chocolate that is darker and more bitter is more dangerous for dogs. 

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Gourmet dark chocolate and baking chocolate have a very high concentration of theobromine, containing 130-450 mg per ounce. Theobromine is found in milk chocolate at a low level of 44-58 mg/ounce.  Due to its low theobromine content, white chocolate rarely causes chocolate poisoning. The fat and sugar in chocolate can make dogs ill even if the amount eaten is not toxic.

If dark or semi-sweet chocolate is consumed in excess of 0.13 ounces per pound, poisoning may result. Baker’s chocolate ingestions are usually poisonous and should be treated as an emergency. 

Dogs with sensitive stomachs or those suffering from severe cases of these can develop pancreatitis. Putting this into perspective, a small dog weighing 50 pounds would only require about 9 ounces of milk chocolate to show signs of poisoning if it ate 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate. 

The question of how much chocolate a dog can eat is often asked by dog owners. Theobromine (a toxin found in chocolate) causes dogs to show symptoms of poisoning when consumed in high enough quantities. At a dosage of 40 to 50 mg per kg, these symptoms become severe.

How Long Does It Take for Chocolate to Take Effect in a Dog?

Keep an eye out for these symptoms if you think your dog may have eaten chocolate. Chocolate poisoning usually presents with symptoms within six to twelve hours, but it can happen within an hour. When you discover your dog ate chocolate, you should react immediately. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

You should watch out for these signs if even a small amount of chocolate was consumed by your dog:

  • Agitation
  • Drinking More Than Usual
  • Out-of-character Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Racing Heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Severe Vomiting
  • Panting Quickly
  • Feels Warm

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Recover After Eating Chocolate?

When a dog consumes enough theobromine, he will display symptoms of poisoning. There will initially be abdominal pain and vomiting. There may even be blood in the vomit. Most of the time, vomit contains substantial amounts of chocolate, giving it its distinctive smell. Dogs can have trouble standing and walking, be restless, or drool saliva. The dog may also be thirsty.

Dogs with a severe case of the syndrome will develop increased breathing rates, muscle tremors, or rigidity. Occasionally, urine may contain blood and gums may turn bluish in color, a condition known as “cyanosis”. It is possible for a dog to convulse and eventually die.

A majority of the time, the symptoms appear within a few hours, however, in some cases, symptoms may be delayed for up to 24 hours. Occasionally, the dog may need three or more days to recover completely.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog Has Chocolate Poisoning?

Dogs are poisoned by chocolate. Even though chocolate ingestion rarely results in death, it can cause significant illness. Theobromine and caffeine, both present in chocolate, make it a toxic substance. Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxin very similar to caffeine. Both chemicals are used medicinally as diuretics, heart stimulators, blood vessel dilator, and relaxation agents. Caffeine and theobromine are not metabolized by dogs as well as they are by people. Because of this, dogs are more sensitive to the effects of these chemicals.  

Chocolate consumption can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the amount and type consumed. Most dogs are affected by vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. Muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure are possible symptoms in severe cases. The prognosis for chocolate poisoning can be made worse by complications such as aspiration pneumonia. In the event that you suspect your pet has eaten poisonous chocolate, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Pet owners with dogs that have eaten chocolate cannot be successfully treated with home remedies. To determine the most appropriate treatment, your veterinarian needs to know how much chocolate, what type, and when your dog ate this toxic substance. You should speak to your veterinarian before giving your dog any treatment. If your dog has eaten chocolate, it is in your pet’s best interest to see a vet as soon as possible.

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Do Not Try to Induce Vomiting at Home

It’s the vet’s job to induce vomiting. There are many online recipes that could make your dog sick. In this situation, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. If anything goes wrong, the veterinarian can fix it because they have access to safe, effective drugs. You might see recommendations online to make your dog vomit by adding salt or hydrogen peroxide. When your dog ingests large amounts of salt, it can become as dangerous as a bar of chocolate. The caustic nature of hydrogen peroxide can cause further problems to the stomach or esophagus.

Dogs with chocolate poisoning may be given activated charcoal (by mixing it into their drinking water). This is because activated charcoal prevents theobromine from being absorbed by the dog’s body. 

We do not recommend giving your dog activated charcoal without the direction or supervision of a veterinarian unless you really know what you are doing. The danger of overdosing your dog with activated charcoal is one of the risks involved with it. 

Contact a Veterinarian 

Do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian when you notice your chocolate disappearing from the house or your dog eating chocolate. In spite of the fact that it might not be anything to worry about for the vet, it’s vital to determine just how dangerous the amount they’ve stolen might be. It could result in disaster if left unattended.

When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet After Eating Chocolate?

If you think that your dog may have eaten a potentially toxic amount of chocolate, consult your veterinarian immediately for advice. The treatment may involve making the dog vomit, flushing the stomach with a procedure called gastric lavage, giving the dog activated charcoal, and providing supportive treatment. 

Even if it’s the weekend or early the next morning, if your dog ate a lot of chocolate, this is not a visit that can wait. As soon as possible, you should consult a veterinarian. 

Christmas and Easter are popular holiday celebrations for dogs to consume chocolate. You might not be able to see your regular vet during these times. Telehealth visits are an ideal option for pets because of this very reason. You can always contact a reputable, experienced veterinarian at any time for advice.

Key Takeaways

Chocolate toxicity is not uncommon. Chocolate poisoning in dogs usually happens during the holidays when a dog has either chocolate, may it be from cocoa powder, chocolate cake, or chocolate ice cream. A dog eating chocolate can spell disaster especially if they ate a big amount of chocolate. Theobromine is the compound found in chocolate that can be poisonous to dogs. Signs of chocolate poisoning include seizure, vomiting, rapid breathing, and stomach ache.

The dog’s size and dog’s condition can also determine the severity of theobromine poisoning. A dangerous amount of chocolate consumed can cause serious trouble to the central nervous system. If your dog has consumed a toxic dose of chocolate, make sure to monitor its symptoms and call a veterinarian as soon as possible.