Help - my dog ate chocolate!

If your dog ate chocolate he`s in danger of some serious, potentially fatal, consequences. 

This is because chocolate contains Theobromine, one of agroup of natural stimulants called Methylxanthines (caffeine is anothercommon Methylxanthine).

These affect your dog`s centralnervous system and his heart.

They cause the heart beat faster and/orerratically, and also dilate blood vessels which makes blood flowfaster, while at at the same time lowering blood pressure.

They also actsas a diuretic - forcing the kidneys to work harder and output moreurine.

When dogs ingest chocolate, they metabolize the Methylzanthines itcontains very slowly (so it stays in their bodies for longer and canbuild up to toxic levels quite easily).

Symptoms of poisoningin dogs can show up almost right away, but they can also take hours (asmany as 12 - 24) to develop, and can last for up to 48 hours or more.

Althoughsymptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs can take a while to develop, itdoesn`t take much to make them very sick indeed.

For asmall dog, ingesting even a tiny amount can be deadly.

Coffee,coca-cola (and to a slightly lesser extent, black tea) contain caffeinewhich is an even stronger Methylzanthine and is also highly dangerousand toxic to dogs.

It`s important to know how much is too much and how your dog`s weight, age and health fits into the equation.

How Much Chocolate Will Poison My Dog?

This is a good question, but unfortunately there is no`one-size-fits-all` answer because different types of chocolate containdiffering concentrations of Theobromine.

The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your pet.

Baking chocolate contains the highest levels of Methylzanthine - approx. 400mg per ounce in fact.

Semi-sweet chocolate has about 260mg per ounce, and milk chocolate about 45mg per ounce.

White chocolate has the least Theobromine, somewhere around 1mg per ounce.

Mostchocolate candies will contain anywhere between 40mg and 60mg ofTheobromine per ounce, and chocolate-flavored frosting and suchgenerally has even lower levels as they`re also made up of sugar, butterand so on.

Cocoa powder also contains Theobromine, so do cocoa beans.

Fordogs, how much Theobromine is TOO much isn`t an exact science, andeating one ounce of milk chocolate doesn`t carry the same risks aseating an ounce of bakers chocolate.

A dog who ate chocolate mayhave ingested enough Theobromine to be life-threatening.... or it couldbe that the worst he`s going to suffer is some diarrhea and vomiting....what happens depends on both the type he ate, and his size/weight.

If your dog ate chocolate, here`s a quick guide that gives you a way to estimate whether or not he`s at serious risk or poisoning.....

Milk Chocolate

Toxic Dose: Approx. 1 ounce of chocolate per 1 (one) pound of body weight

1 oz is approximately one square of chocolate, and that will help you if he`s eaten a chocolate bar.

if your dog weighs 10 lbs or under and has eaten 10 oz of milk chocolatehe is in serious danger. 

But, if he weighs 120 lbs and has eaten 10 ozthen he will probably get sick, but a healthy dog isn`t likely to be in serious danger.

Semi-sweet Chocolate

Toxic Dose: Approx. 1 ounce of chocolate per 5 pounds of body weight

So if your dog ate chocolate of this type, it takes less of it to causeserious problems.

If you take the same 10 lb dog from the previouspoint, he would only need to eat 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate to be indanger of poisoning (as opposed to the 10 oz of milk chocolate).

Video: My dog ate chocolate

Dark or Baking Chocolate

Toxic Dose: Approx. 1 ounce of chocolate per 10 pounds of body weight

This is the most dangerous type and it`s twice as dangerous for him if thatchocolate was the dark or baking variety, rather than semi-sweet. Tentimes as dangerous as eating milk chocolate!

Your 10lb dog will haveingested a toxic level of Theobromine from only 1 oz. of dark/bakingchocolate!

Video: My dog just ate chocolate: Dr. Justine Lee & VPI talk kitchen poisons

If he weighs 50lbs and he`s eaten 5 oz`s he`s in the same situation.

Please remember that the above figures are only estimates, and the effects of chocolate on puppies, very small dogs, very young dogs or those with other health problems, can be more severe and therefore more dangerous.

These are guidelines only!

I strongly recommend that if your dog has eaten any at all, that you get him to your own veterinarian or a24 hour emergency pet hospital right away rather than `guess` whether ornot he`s going to be okay.

Evencalling your vet, or an Animal Poison Control helpline is better thanleaving it to chance - it could literally cost your pet his life.

If you know (or even think) that your dog ate chocolate, get veterinary help/advice right away!!

For a more accurate calculation of how much theobromine and caffeine was in the amount of chocolate your dog ate, check out this very useful `Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter`.

It uses your dog`s weight plus type and amount of chocolate he ate to estimate how dangerous it is, and what symptoms you might see.

BUT, again, if there`s any element of guesswork in your calculations, don`t take any chances. Get vet help right away.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

If you know your dog ate chocolate, depending on what type he ingested and how much he weighs, symptoms of a toxic level of Theobromine could include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination
    These are often the first signs of trouble. The vomit may containblood. If you have a large dog who`s only eaten a small piece ofchocolate he may be lucky enough to only suffer from these symptoms.
  • Agitation or Nervousness
    Too much Theobromine can make your pup or dog restless or hyperactiveand cause pacing, whining and/or panting. Unusual or excessive droolingcan also occur. He may be extra-thirsty.
  • Rapid breathing, breathlessness, seizure, convulsions
    These symptoms in a dog who ate chocolate are very serious indeed andyour dog is at risk of convulsions or death. They indicate toxic levelsof Theobromine and can appear many hours after he`s eaten the chocolate.

Whether or not you feel the symptoms your dog is experiencing areserious, it`s vital to get veterinary help IMMEDIATELY if your dog atechocolate - no matter how much, or what type.

Only a qualifiedvet can decide whether or not any treatment is needed and time is ofthe essence! The sooner your dog gets help the better his chances ofmaking a full recovery.

Generally if there is any doubt aboutwhether he`s eaten enough to be dangerous, a vet will induce vomiting asquickly as possible to prevent any more Theobromine being absorbed intoyour pet`s bloodstream.

If your own veterinary clinic/office isclosed, take your dog to a 24 hour emergency pet hospital, this is not a`wait and see` situation.

You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center or your local Poison Control Hotline. The ASPCA`s number is:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
1-888-426-4435 or 1-800-548-2423

Although there may be a charge (around $65 at time of publication), I`d imagine your dog`s life is worth much more than that to you, so if you need to - call them!

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