You’ve probably heard that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but just what will happen if your dog consumes some of the tasty human treat? The answer isn’t as simple as black and white. Factors such as the amount and type of chocolate eaten can result in totally different symptoms and varying degrees of severity. Our guide below can help you understand what to expect if your dog accidentally eats chocolate.
What Makes Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?
The substance in chocolate that is toxic to dogs is called theobromine. Combined with the caffeine also in chocolate, theobromine speeds up your dog’s heart rate and can be very dangerous, in rare cases, resulting in death. The darker and purer the chocolate, the more theobromine and the more toxic it is to your dog. On the range of different chocolates, Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are the most toxic, while milk and white chocolate are the least. Cocoa bean mulch, which is sometimes used on lawns, also contains theobromine and can be very toxic to your dog.
Signs of Chocolate Poisoning
According to WebMD, symptoms of poisoning can take 6-12 hours to appear. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, seizures, pacing and increased urination. The chemicals in chocolate last a long time in the body, and symptoms can persist up to 72 hours. In addition, the weight of your dog can affect the severity of her symptoms.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) immediately. Depending on your dog’s size and type of chocolate eaten, your vet may have you bring your pup in to induce vomiting, if she hasn’t thrown up the chocolate already. Your vet will give you advice on the best treatment, if necessary.
How to Prevent Chocolate Poisoning
There are a few simple ways to make sure your dog does not end up eating chocolate. Left to their own devices, dogs will eat just about anything. It’s up to you to provide the restraint and boundaries that your pup does not have. Keep chocolate stored far away from your curious pup, and out of purses, low countertops, and other easy-to-reach places. Be especially cautious during chocolate-filled holidays like Christmas and Halloween, and urge your children to keep their candy out of sight (and smell!). If a piece of chocolate suddenly falls before your pup, or you come across a chocolate candy wrapper while on a walk, the “leave it” command can prove very useful for teaching your dog to release something she shouldn’t have in your mouth. When leaving your pup alone, keep her safe by confining her to a crate or in an area closed off with a doggy gate. To keep a dog distracted and entertained, offer toys or chewable bones.
Chocolate may be a human’s favorite comfort food, but it has no place in your doggy’s diet! Hopefully, you never have a chocolate scare, but in the event that your dog does have a sweet tooth, quick action is necessary for protecting her from serious harm.
While your dog should be consuming the majority of his calories from food made specifically for dogs, sometimes there is no resisting the urge to offer your pup human food as a reward, especially during training. If you’re going to give your adult dog or puppy food intended for humans, be cautious. Not all foods that are good for you are safe for your pup, and some can even be poisonous.
Some common foods to keep away from your dog include:
Grapes and raisins
Make sure these foods are all FAR out of your pup’s reach, and contact your vet immediately if he or she eats any of them.
Looking for a list of dog-safe human foods? Look no further. Add these pup-friendly snacks to your grocery list and enjoy watching your dog chow down stress-free (in moderation of course)! Note: Some dogs may have allergies, so always introduce new foods slowly and observe for any adverse reactions.
Peanut butter – Peanut butter is a good source of natural protein and contains heart-friendly fats and B & E vitamins. Spread some peanut butter on your dog’s favorite chew toy or in a Kong toy. Be sure to avoid any peanut butters with artificial sweeteners, which are harmful for dogs.
Cooked chicken – When it comes to chicken, the same rule for people applies to dogs — chicken meat needs to be cooked thoroughly to avoid salmonella risks. You can add a couple chunks of lean chicken into regular dog food to give it a protein boost and add flavor. Plain chicken is best, because some spices can cause digestive issues with dogs.
Cheese – Most dogs are very happy to eat cheese, but a small percentage of dogs are lactose intolerant, so proceed with caution. Cheese is also very high in fat, so these treats should be given sparingly.
Baby carrots – Giving your dog a couple of baby carrots on occasion will help keep his teeth clean and strong.
Yogurt – In addition to being a good source of calcium, yogurt contains active bacteria (probiotics) which can help improve your dog’s digestive system. Any yogurt you give to your pup should be unsweetened and unflavored, due to the risks posed by artificial sweeteners.
Salmon – Salmon contains hefty amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve heart and immune health and also make a dog’s coat and skin shiny and healthy. Salmon can be added to your dog’s diet as meat or can be added as oil to your dog’s regular food. And good news for those who don’t like salmon skin – it’s safe to feed the skin to your pooch. Just make sure they don’t get any bones, which could be sharp and present a choking hazard.
Pumpkin – Just like carrots, pumpkin contains beta carotene and fiber, which is a good source of vitamin A and helps keep your dog’s digestive tract regular.
Eggs – Mix an entire cooked egg into your dog’s regular food to give it a protein boost.
Green beans – These make great snacks for your dogs because they are high in flavor and low in calories.
Apples – Just like carrots, apple slices can keep your dog’s teeth clean and shiny, and they can also help freshen up his breath. Apples also contain large amounts of fiber and vitamins. Just make sure you take out the apple core because the seeds are not good for your pup.
Oatmeal – This grain is a great source of natural dietary fiber, which can really be beneficial, especially as your dog ages. If your dog has wheat allergies, (gluten free) oatmeal can be used as a substitute grain. Make sure you thoroughly cook the oatmeal before you serving it to your dog, and don’t add any sweeteners.
Sweet potatoes – This veggie is another great source of fiber and contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese. Your pup will enjoy sweet potato sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat, or cooked and sprinkled on their regular food.