Halloween is almost here and that means candy of lots of chocolate. While you may be tempted to share a piece of chocolate with your dog, it can be challenging to resist those adorable puppy eyes when it comes to saying “no” to chocolate. It’s important to know how dangerous chocolate can be for our furry family members.

Chocolate Can Cause Illness and Death in Dogs

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. This ingredient, similar to caffeine, are dangerous for dogs. Chocolate contains much more theobromine than it does caffeine, so that’s the main ingredient to be concerned about.

Effects of Theobromine in Dogs

Dogs metabolize theobromine a lot more slowly than humans do, so it can easily build up and cause dangerous effects. Dark chocolate is more dangerous for dogs because it contains less sugar than milk chocolate, making the concentration of theobromine higher[1].

Theobromine stays in dogs’ bodies much longer than humans’, giving it more time to concentrate and cause harm. In addition, most dogs are smaller and lighter than humans, so it doesn’t take much chocolate to make them sick.

A 30 lb. dog would only need to eat about 1.5 ounces of baking chocolate (10.5 ounces of milk chocolate) for it to be a lethal dose.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If you think your dog has ingested chocolate, call your veterinarian right away! Your vet will want to know:

  • how much your dog weighs
  • what type of chocolate the dog ate

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs include:

  • vomiting
  • hyperactivity
  • pacing
  • panting
  • extreme thirst
  • diarrhea
  • shaking
  • seizures

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs can last up to 72 hours. The faster you get your dog to vomit out the chocolate, the better chance the dog has to recover.

Don’t Wait for Warning Signs

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, don’t wait for symptoms to appear; it can take 6 -12 hours for your dog to show any signs of sickness.

How Vets Treat Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Most vets will administer fluids and an IV with apomorphine to induce vomiting[2]. They will pump the stomach to flush the poison out of your dog’s system and introduce activated charcoal to prevent the chocolate from entering the dog’s blood stream.

 

[1]U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1215566 (accessed Oct. 10, 2019

[2] Pet Poision Hotline, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-safety-tips/is-chocolate-poisonous-to-dogs (accessed Oct. 10, 2018)