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What to do if your dog eats chocolate

Pug dog in front of chocolate advice

Chocolate can be like a poison to dogs.

© Shutterstock

Dogs may be attracted to chocolate, but it can be very toxic to them. Here's what to do if they get hold of the sweet stuff.

By Dr. Laura Harvey BVetMed GPCert (WVA&CPM) MRCVS

Published on the 12/08/2020, 09:00

Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs. This is because it contains theobromine, which can affect the dog’s digestive, nervous and cardiovascular systems. The effects for the dog depend on the amount and strength of chocolate eaten, but symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, drooling, increased thirst, excitability, tremors, seizures, kidney and heart failure. Therefore if your dog has eaten chocolate, please contact a vet immediately.

Can chocolate poison dogs?

It is important to keep chocolate out of your dog’s reach at all times, especially at Christmas, Easter and birthdays, as there tends to be more chocolate around on these occasions. Dogs usually like chocolate, but don’t know that they shouldn’t eat it because it can be very toxic to them. The effects for the dog depend on the amount and strength of chocolate eaten, but symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, drooling, increased thirst, excitability, tremors, seizures, kidney and heart failure. Therefore if your dog has eaten chocolate, please contact a vet as soon as possible.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance dogs cannot metabolise in the same way humans can. Therefore it has toxic effects, from causing vomiting and diarrhoea at mild doses, to excitability, increased thirst, seizures, kidney and heart failure at higher doses. It also contains sugar and caffeine, which are not good for dogs either.

Is chocolate powder dangerous for dogs?

Yes, because it contains theobromine, often at higher concentrations, so will have the same effects as chocolate. Again, the symptoms seen will depend on the amount and strength of the chocolate powder eaten. If your dog has eaten chocolate powder, please contact a vet immediately.

Is it dangerous if my dog drank hot chocolate?

Yes, because it will still contain theobromine, so can still have the same effects as chocolate itself. Again, the symptoms seen will depend on the amount and strength of the chocolate powder eaten. In addition, the milk in hot chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in some dogs. If your dog has drunk hot chocolate, please contact a vet as soon as possible.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

What home remedy can I give my dog for chocolate?

The best thing is to contact a vet immediately, as depending on the amount and strength of chocolate eaten, it is likely the vet will need to make your dog vomit. This is best done within two hours of ingestion. Further treatment may or may not be required, depending on the amount and strength of chocolate eaten, together with the time since ingestion.  

What can I give my dog, if they ate chocolate?

The best thing is to contact a vet as soon as possible, as depending on the amount and strength eaten, it may be necessary to make your dog vomit and give further symptomatic treatment.

What does chocolate do to dogs?

The symptoms vary with the amount and strength eaten. Mild symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, but this can progress to increased thirst, excitability, tremors, kidney and heart failure, and seizures. Therefore it can be fatal, if left untreated. Fortunately, this is rare if veterinary treatment s sought out promptly.

How much chocolate will make a dog sick?

The toxic level of theobromine is 20mg per kg bodyweight. This equates to 14g milk chocolate per kg bodyweight or 3.5g dark chocolate (if it's 30 to 50% cocoa) per kg bodyweight. If your dog has eaten this amount or more, please get hold of a vet immediately. It is important to note that a lot of chocolate available these days is stronger than "traditional" dark chocolate, so a dog can eat much less of 90% dark chocolate than it can 60% dark chocolate, before being affected by it.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

How much is an ounce of chocolate?

One ounce of chocolate = 28g = 1/6 cup.

How much chocolate can my dog eat?

This varies with the strength of the chocolate, because theobromine levels of just 20mg per kg bodyweight can be toxic. This equates to 14g of milk chocolate per kg bodyweight or 3.5g dark chocolate (when dark chocolate is 30 to 50% cocoa) per kg bodyweight.

How do I make my dog throw up chocolate?

This should be only done by a vet, so make sure you contact a vet immediately.

How long does it take for chocolate to get out of a dog’s system?

Usually, it takes 72 hours. But before that, most symptoms will start within four to six hours of chocolate ingestion.

Talk to a vet online. Visit myfamilyvets.co.uk

Can a dog die from eating chocolate?

Yes, a dog can. Having said that, this is very rare, if veterinary attention is sought immediately.

How do you treat chocolate poisoning in dogs?

It depends on the amount and strength of chocolate eaten, so please contact a vet as soon as possible. Ideally vomiting will be induced within two hours of ingestion and further supportive care may be required. The vet will be able to advise you on this. It will help the vet if you know how much and what type of chocolate was eaten, as well as the time it was eaten.

Home remedies for chocolate poisoning in dogs

The best thing is to contact a vet straight away, as veterinary treatment will be required if your dog has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate.