What do you do if your dog eats chocolate?

My dog ate chocolate – what do I do? We can help!

Dogs and chocolate can be a fatal mix.  Dogs love eating chocolate but what happens to them is dependent on their weight, the type of chocolate, and how long it has been since they consumed chocolate.  Even though your dog may  not be immediately showing signs of chocolate intoxication, you must act fast and ask a vet if how much they ate requires an emergency hospital visit.

Our vets at VetLIVE are able to determine if your pet is in danger and inform you for signs to look out for.  VetLIVE veterinarians need the following information and may request additional information:

  1. Your dog’s age, breed, weight, and medical conditions
  2. Time since chocolate was ingested
  3. Type of chocolate (be sure to keep the packaging)
  4. Amount of chocolate consumed (preferable in ounces)
  5. Behavior and clinical signs (vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, pacing, etc.)

The signs of chocolate intoxication can range depending on how much chocolate was consumed.  The most common signs are hyperactivity and restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thrust and urinating, and a rapid heart rate. Dogs may begin pacing and can’t sit still. They may pant a lot and act anxious. Hyperactivity can progress to tremors and seizures if large amounts are ingested.  Dogs eating chocolate can be fatal.

Here is an example of a live instant messaging chat from an actual dog owner who asked VetLIVE for assistance:

Jabber IM with chat1@vetlive.com11/14/10 12:53 AM
Chat Requested:
Website: www.vetlive.com
Name: Dxxxx Sxxxxxxxx

DOG PARENT: Pit Bull mix may has accidentally ingested chocolate. She is 56.4 lbs, about 3 years old (a rescue) not spayed, and 2 months after finishing heart worm treatment. It has been about 1 hr 30 minutes, no symptoms showing yet. What symptoms should we look out for and when might we see them?

(Dr. Schaible) Hello, this is Dr. Laci.  I will be helping you today. I need more information.  What type of chocolate was it and how much did she eat?  I need to calculate the Theobromine and Caffeine (the chemicals that can cause problems) that it contains per ounce.

DOG PARENT:  It was semi-sweet chocolate chips and she ate less than 1/6th of a bag of Nestle toll house semi-sweet chocolate morsels – 12 OZ bag

(Dr. Schaible) Okay.  Give me one minute to calculate her toxic dose. It looks like she will be fine if that is the actual amount she ate.  Are you sure it couldn’t have been more?

DOG PARENT 1/6th would be the max she ate because there are even some left in the carpet.

(Dr. Schaible) Good.  She is right at the border of getting potential vomiting and diarrhea.  If this should occur, take her to the vet.  It is too late to make her throw up (gastrointestinal decontamination).  She will likely be fine.  Here are things to look out for:

  • The most common signs are restlessness and hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urinating, and a rapid heart rate.
  • Animals may begin pacing and are unable to sit still. They may pant and appear anxious. Hyperactivity may progress to tremors and seizures if large amounts are ingested.
  • In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend that you induce vomiting at home. This should be done only under the direction of your veterinarian but it is too late for your dog- its already been absorbed. Depending on the amount ingested and signs the animal is exhibiting, activated charcoal may be administered. Activated charcoal helps prevent absorption of the methylxanthine agent from the gut. Clinical signs are treated symptomatically and may require intravenous fluids, as well as medications to control hyperactivity, seizures, vomiting, and a rapid heart rate.

    DOG PARENT Thanks for your time and help.  I think we are all done!

    (Dr. Schaible) You are very welcome.  Thanks for using our services.  I hope I have helped you.

    DOG PARENT Yes, very much.  You have saved us a trip into the emergency clinic an hour away.  My wife was terribly upset.

    (Dr. Schaible) I am glad to have helped.  Keep an eye on her, and if you do see any of the signs I mentioned, seek veterinary care–in person!  Best of luck with Bella!

    DOG PARENT Same to you, good by

    (Dr. Schaible) Good bye!

    DOG PARENT Oh, okay.  Also should we give her dinner?

    (Dr. Schaible)  I would give her a small bland normal dinner, and keep a close eye on her. You are doing a great job.

    DOG PARENT Thanks, so much for your help. Let me just check with my wife to make sure there is nothing else we want to ask about this

    (Dr. Schaible) That is wonderful that you have rescued her and treated her heartworms.

    DOG PARENT Thank you for saying so.  We really do like Bella and are glad to have gotten her.

    My Dog Ate Chocolate | Chocolate and dogs