Chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs. Depending on a couple of factors, your dog eating chocolate could result in a serious medical emergency.
If you are aware of the fact that your dog has consumed chocolate then you must monitor them for signs of toxicity and contact your veterinarian for some advice if symptoms worsen.
Learn how much is too much, which types of chocolate are the most dangerous, and what signs to look for that may signal your dog needs treatment.
Why chocolate is toxic to dogs
Dogs of any age - but specifically puppies - are prone to constantly trying to chew whatever they set their sites on. Whether it’s a dog toy, your hand, or a piece of food that you’re eating, your dog will likely carry on with their incessant behavior until they have the item in their grasp.
This can often be a little nerve-wracking, and very difficult behavior to discourage, especially when the object of their desires is something poisonous to their system, such as chocolate.
Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which can stimulate the nervous system and speed up the heart rate of dogs. Dogs cannot metabolize these two things effectively, so if consumed, they could cause a whole host of problems.
The overall risk of your dog becoming sick from eating chocolate is dependent on the type and amount of chocolate consumed, and the weight of your dog.
Top Tip: If you’re concerned about your dog’s behavior, you can visit The Puppy Mag for helpful advice.
The signs of chocolate poisoning
The most common signs of chocolate poisoning will typically appear within 6 to 12 hours after your dog has consumed it, and could last up to around 72 hours. You should keep an eye out for the following signs:
Collapse and death
Elevated or abnormally high heart rate
It’s important to remember that dogs with heart conditions and older dogs are at more risk of sudden death due to chocolate poisoning.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate
If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, the first thing you must do is call your veterinarian. If your usual veterinarian practice isn’t open, there are additional services that can connect you with an emergency vet.
Depending on your dog’s size and the chocolate that has been consumed, your vet might recommend that you closely monitor your dog for any of the signs listed above. They may also advise you to call them back if your dog’s condition worsens.
In many other situations, the vet might prefer you to bring your dog into the clinic. If your dog has eaten the chocolate less than two hours before you take them in, your veterinarian might induce vomiting and give your pet some activated charcoal. This works by removing the toxins from their body without them being absorbed into the bloodstream.
In more severe cases, veterinary intervention might be the only way forward. This will allow the vet to provide supplemental treatment such as IV fluids or medications, to reverse the effects of chocolate poisoning.
If your dog suffers from seizures then it might need to be monitored overnight at the clinic.
How to prevent your dog from eating chocolate
Small amounts of chocolate might not cause many issues in bigger dogs, but it’s still not recommended that pet owners give chocolate to their dogs as a treat.
If you want to stop your dog from sneakily taking some chocolate, you can:
Crate train your dog is the safest way to make sure that your dog doesn’t eat anything poisonous while you are not supervising them. You must provide a sturdy crate large enough for your dog so that they can retreat there when they need to be alone, along with blankets, stuffed toys, and treats.
Ensure all chocolate items are not left on countertops, in your bag, or on the table so that your dog cannot reach them.
Teach Them The “Leave It” Command. This is an easy-to-teach and extremely effective command that prevents dogs from eating chocolate that has fallen to the ground or is in reach of them.
Knowing that your dog has eaten chocolate can be a scary situation for them and for you. However, as long as you make sure to get them the professional help they so desperately need as soon as you possibly can, your dog should be able to make a full recovery.
Eric Hawkson is a dog-lover. He is an expert on dog diet and safety. Thus, he loves to share facts, tips, and guides on how to take care of your dogs properly through blog writing.