My Dog Just Ate Chocolate. What do I do?!

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.