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My Dog Ate Chocolate - Chocolate Poisoning

Updated on September 25, 2015
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing and dog healthcare.

Dogs and Chocolate

For some reason man's best friend and woman's best friend- dog and chocolate- just don't get along too well... Excess chocolate can cause chocolate poisoning in your dog, but why?

Well, simple. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is very toxic to dogs. When dogs consume too much theobromine, it can cause any of the signs mentioned below relating to chocolate poisoning.

The theobromine is a natural stimulant found in cocoa beans that causes increased urination and irregularities with the central nervous system as well as the heart. Excess amounts of the stimulant can be troublesome, if not fatal for your dog.

Check out the toxicity levels of different types of chocolate and how much chocolate a dog can consume per pound weight without seeing a signs of poisoning. But, just because your dog can't have human chocolate, he can have carob, which is commonly marketed as dog chocolate. Check out a few options of dog carob treats below, as well.

Don't worry this is a set up picture. She didn't eat any of the Dove dark chocolates. She's just a good model. ;-)
Don't worry this is a set up picture. She didn't eat any of the Dove dark chocolates. She's just a good model. ;-)

Chocolate Toxicity for Dogs

Different types of chocolate is going to affect your dog different, and the different types of chocolate is going to affect different dog sizes differently.

Typically, it's going a lot of chocolate to cause reaction in your dog, so you're not going to have to rush your Great Dane to emergency vet for eating one or two of your M&M's.

On average chocolate is going to contain the following amount of theobromine per ounce, and the theobromine is what's actually toxic for your dog, not the chocolate itself.

  • Milk chocolate- 44-60 mg/oz
  • Semi-sweet chocolate- 150-225 mg/oz
  • Baker's chocolate- 390-450 mg/oz

Now, looking at the milligrams per ounce of theobromine in milk chocolate, semi-sweet, and Baker's chocolate, you can see that Baker's chocolate is going to be the worst of the three, especially since it only takes about 100-150 mg/kg of theobromine to cause the chemical reaction.

Now, typically 100-200 milligram per kilogram of body weight is a large number, but depending on your dog's sensitivity and size and the concentration of the actual piece of chocolate is going to affect different dogs differently.

Using 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose, the actual amount of chocolate that can affect your dog comes to about:

  • Milk chocolate- 1 ounce per 1 pound
  • Semi-sweet chocolate- 1 ounce per 3 pounds
  • Baker's chocolate- 1 ounce per 9 pounds

As for white chocolate, it will take about 200 ounces per pound before causing a reaction.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Usually, you'll notice signs of chocolate poisoning within 12 hours, if not less after your dog consumed the chocolate.

The theobromine will affect the nervous and cardiovascular systems, as well as the peripheral nerves, and like in people, you may even see the diuretic effect in your dog.

Common signs and symptoms that you may notice include:

  • Excitement
  • Nervousness
  • Trembling and Shaking
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination (sometimes)
  • Coma (rare)
  • Death (rare)- usually caused by abnormalities with the dog's heart, typically either the heart beat or the heart rate

Chocolate Poisoning Treatment

Unfortunately there is no treatment for chocolate poisoning, but if you think that your dog has consumed a good chunk of chocolate, when compared to his weight, you'll still want to contact your vet or an emergency vet, as there are a few support treatments that you can try to help alleviate the symptoms.

  • IV fluids: to help prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea and/or vomiting; IV fluids can help to flush the theobromine from the chocolate out of your dog's body, as well.
  • Emetics: to help induce vomiting within 4 hours after consuming the chocolate
  • Activated charcoal: ingested to help alleviate poisoning for prolonged symptoms
  • Anti-seizure medications: to alleviate seizures and tremors
  • Cardiac medications: to alleviate irregular heart beat and heart rate

You can try coating your dog's stomach with milk and egg whites using 1/4 cup of egg white and 1/4 cup of milk per 10 pounds of body weight, if you're at home and you do not have access to charcoal.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Nadine 

      9 years ago

      Wow! Very interesting! I knew its was bad for dogs but never knew what was in it that hurt them amd how much it would take. Now I wont be so scared if my dog gets an M&M I drop. That doesn't happen very often. HAHA

    • lisa42 profile image

      lisa42 

      9 years ago from Sacramento

      Great article. I knew chocolate was toxic to dogs, but never knew the amount of chocolate that was dangerous. Thanks for the information!

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitney 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      That's not good... Hopefully, HubPages will be able to keep you busy and maybe a few bucks in your wallet while you're unemployed.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 

      9 years ago from Manhattan

      Haha, yeah, I was inactive and busy with school and work until I recently got fired (thanks, recession) so now I'm back!

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitney 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks Helena! I know my younger cousin flipped when her dog had a chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate just doesn't affect all dogs and not all dogs the same.

      It's been a while since I've seen you around, but I see where you've posted a few hubs lately. I'll have to check them out.

    • helenathegreat profile image

      helenathegreat 

      9 years ago from Manhattan

      Great hub. Many people seem to think it's the caffeine in chocolate that causes the problems. Good job exposing the myth, as always, Whitney. :)

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitney 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      No height, but weight, as mentioned in the article.

      Read the article, and you'll see the weight vs. chocolate stats.

    • profile image

      JB 

      9 years ago

      does anyone know if the size of the dog matters in how fast or dangerers thepoisoning is because my dog ate some and shes only about a foot tall

    • ScottOBrien profile image

      ScottOBrien 

      9 years ago from Buffalo, NY

      Awesome Read! My Mother-in-Law constantly is harping about keep chocolate out of reach from our dogs and I always thought it was just a wise tail that she passed on from generation to generation : ) Does thi mean I have to admit she was right all along now?

    • kerryv profile image

      kerryv 

      9 years ago from New York, NY

      I was just talking to my friend about this yesterday and you finally cleared this up for me! Thank you.

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      9 years ago from USA

      I was glad to read your well written hub. I knew that chocolate could be fatal to dogs but many people don't know this. I think it is an excellent subject to advise on.

    • Valux profile image

      Valux 

      10 years ago from Florida, USA

      I knew that chocolate was bad and potentially fatal for dogs, I just never understood the science behind why. Thanks for this, very informative!

    • evemurphy profile image

      evemurphy 

      10 years ago from Ottawa

      Very pertinent and important information. I don't think many people are aware of this danger. Thanks!

    • msdee profile image

      msdee 

      10 years ago from Florida

      I always knew chocolet was bad for dogs but never new why. Thank youfor the knowledge

    • Lilymag profile image

      Lilymag 

      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      More people need to realize what is detrimental to dogs health! Thank you again for a wonderful hub on dogs health!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      This hub reminds me of my friends PitBull who died from this!! I very sadly was guilty of contributing to this as i never had this knowledge nor he!! until it was too late!:(

      chocolate really does Kill dogs!

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