What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

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Of all the foods that dogs are off-limits to, chocolate is probably the one people are most familiar with — even if they don’t have a dog of their own. And with good reason: chocolate is toxic to dogs and can make them seriously ill.

But no matter how careful you are and how much effort you put into keeping chocolate out of sight and out of mind for your pooch, there’s always a chance they’ll manage to find something. Here’s what to do when that happens.

Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs?

The two problematic ingredients are theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause dogs to have an increased heart rate, hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle tremors, and/or seizures Merck/Merial Manual for Veterinary Health.

Generally speaking, the higher the concentration of theobromine in a type of chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet. Cocoa powder is the most dangerous, followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate This is reported by the American Kennel Club (AKC)..

What to do if your dog eats chocolate

The severity of the situation depends on a number of factors, including the amount and type of chocolate your dog has eaten and their weight. For example, if a toy poodle and a German shepherd ate the same amount and type of chocolate, it would take a lot less chocolate to make the poodle sick. according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Recognize the signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs

Although the signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear six to 12 hours after your dog eats them, symptoms can last up to 72 hours and include:

  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • restlessness
  • Increased urination
  • Tremble
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • seizures
  • collapse and death

The onset of symptoms can be much quicker in older dogs and dogs with heart problems AKC explained. Both groups are also at higher risk of sudden death from chocolate poisoning.

Gather the evidence

Once you discover your dog ate chocolate, collect any remaining evidence, including packaging and uneaten chocolate, and take it to the vet. This will help them determine the potential severity of the situation and how best to help your dog ASPCA Notices.

Call your veterinarian or the animal poison control

Contact your vet immediately and follow any instructions they give you – including entering the office if necessary. You can also contact them Pet Poison Control Center (855-213-6680) or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) for help.