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Home Remedies: What to do if your dog eats chocolate

White husky eating chocolate advice
© Unsplash

If your dog has a sweet tooth and eats some of your chocolate, what should you do? One of the most common canine emergencies is chocolate poisoning

By Dawn Parrish

Chocolate poisoning

Chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine which are stimulants to the central nervous system of the dog. The dog’s system has the struggle to metabolise and break down these chemicals. Certainly, if your pet begins to urinate more frequently, has a dangerously high temperature and a racing heartbeat, it’s time to seek medical advice. The chemicals present in this sweet treat are not the only risk for your pet as chocolate contains large quantities of sugar and fat. For this reason, if excess amounts are consumed, pancreatitis may result. As with toxicity, this condition can also be fatal if left untreated.

Limit access to chocolate

At holiday periods, such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas time, chocolate is more readily available for your dog to eat. If your pet spends some time with children or attempts to steal or scavenge for food, the risk is higher. First of all, the ideal option is to keep your dog well away from any cocoa products, although this may be more difficult than you expect. Most dogs tend to have a sweet tooth, and will happily devour any treats, especially those that have been dropped on the floor, or sniffed out and devoured.

Prevent your dog from eating chocolate

Never give your dog any pieces of chocolate or treats that contain chocolate. Ensure that any visitors and your children are aware of this rule. Likewise, place any chocolate items well out of your dog’s reach. Dog-proof your waste bins so that he cannot go hunting through the rubbish for sweet treats. When out walking, above all, supervise your pet and prevent him from picking up any discarded chocolate from the ground. If he frequently picks up discarded foodstuff from the street, consider using a muzzle to prevent this.

white, milk and dark chocolate
All varieties of chocolate are dangerous for your dog to eat  ©Pixabay

How much is too much?

Different varieties of chocolate contain varying quantities of theobromine.

The PDSA state that even a small bar of dark chocolate could be deadly for your pet. As a general rule, the better the quality of the chocolate, the higher the cocoa content and the larger the amount of toxic chemicals it will contain. Dark varieties are much more toxic, while in contrast, the levels of theobromine in the milk variety is lower. White chocolate levels are more insignificant and of a minimal risk. Of course, the overall health and size of your dog need to be taken into consideration. Amount of theobromine per 1 gram of chocolate

  • White chocolate                                0.01mg
  • Milk chocolate                                    2.4mg
  • Dark chocolate                                   5.5mg
  • Baking or cooking varieties              16mg

The quantity of theobromine that your dog would need to consume for it to have a fatal result, is 100mg to 250mg for each kilogramme of your dog’s weight. Consequently, if your small dog weighing 10 kg eats a small amount of cooking chocolate, just 60gm to 70gm may be fatal.

White Cross Vets provide a chocolate poisoning calculator

Symptoms of toxicity

Within between 2 and 4 hours of digesting the chocolate, your pet will begin to show signs of poisoning. Look out for severe attacks of vomiting and diarrhoea. In more severe cases, uncoordinated movements, muscle stiffness, panting and extreme restlessness will present. With higher doses of the chemicals, seizures, an increase in heart rate and unconsciousness could occur. These are all very serious symptoms that require medical assessment and treatment.

Dont feed your dog chocolate
Feed your dog healthy treats ©Pixabay

Home remedies – what to do if your dog eats chocolate

If your dog accidentally consumes just a small amount of white or milk chocolate, don’t panic. If there are no obvious health problems, first call your vet. They will advise if you need to take your dog to their surgery, or rather, to treat your dog at home.

Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with water and get your dog to drink this mix. Now you need to get your dog mobile, to induce vomiting. Walk him for around 15 minutes. If he doesn’t begin to vomit, DO NOT give another dose of hydrogen peroxide, as this chemical itself can harm your pet.

Try to offer some grass for your dog to eat. This usually induces sickness too. Dogs will routinely try to eat grass if they have a gastric upset. If your dog successfully vomits, prepare a mixture of food grade, activated granular charcoal. This will help with the absorption of any toxins that remain inside the dog’s stomach.

Although home treatments may help the situation, they are not given to replace professional care and advice. The sooner your dog is given treatment, the better chance he has of survival.