Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and the amount of chocolate consumed and depending on the type and your dog's weight, could need immediate medical attention if you know that your dog has eaten chocolate. In that case, monitoring for any signs of illness is essential. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact your vet.
How much chocolate can a dog eat?
The bitter and darker the chocolate is more dangerous to dogs—the number of toxic theobromine changes with the type of chocolate.
Gourmet dark chocolate and baking are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Ordinary milk chocolate only has about 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate rarely poses any threat of poisoning, with only 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate. However, even if the amount ingested is not a toxicity concern, dogs can still become ill from the fat and sugar in chocolate. These can cause pancreatitis in extreme cases or dogs with more sensitive stomachs.
What should I do when I don't know my dog has eaten chocolate?
It will be difficult to tell precisely how much chocolate your dog has eaten. In addition, the amount of caffeine and theobromine will vary due to growing conditions, cocoa bean sources, and variety. Therefore, it's always best to avoid caution and contact your vet for advice if you're concerned.
What are the signs of chocolate poisoning?
Clinical signs depend on the type and amount of chocolate ingested. The most common clinical indications are diarrhea, vomiting, panting, restlessness, racing heart, increased thirst, or excessive urination. In severe cases, symptoms can include seizures, heart failure, and muscle tremors. Complications such as aspiration pneumonia from vomiting can worsen the chocolate poisoning prognosis. When in doubt, immediate treatment by your vet is recommended if a poisonous amount of chocolate has been eaten.
Poisoning symptoms can take a few hours to develop. However, symptoms due to significant exposures can last for a few days, meaning they remain in the bloodstream for a more extended period. In addition, theobromine may be re-absorbed from the bladder, so intravenous fluids and frequent walks to encourage urination may be necessary. You must seek medical attention by calling your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline as soon as you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate.
Which is the most dangerous chocolate?
Various types of chocolate contain different theobromine concentrations. These are the various kinds of chocolate ranked by groups of theobromine. So, naturally, it will be more dangerous for your pet with a higher theobromine concentration.
- Unsweetened chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate & dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Cocoa powder
White chocolate contains negligible levels of theobromine, according to Merck Veterinary Manual.
There is no antidote to theobromine. Most of the time, your vet will make your dog vomit. Then, the vet may flush out the stomach and feed activated charcoal, absorbing any theobromine left. Additional treatments will depend on the signs that your dog is showing.
They may also need intravenous fluids and medication to control heart rate, blood pressure, and seizure activity. However, with immediate treatment and intervention, the prognosis for a poisoned dog is usually good — even for those who have eaten large amounts of chocolate.