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Chocolate and Dogs: What You Need to Know from our Friends at!

Posted Feb 15 2012 2:00pm

Now that everyone has Valentine's chocolates lying around the is important to make sure that your dog does not get their paws on your present.  Thanks to our friends at for this great reminder about the dangers chocolate poses for dogs and what to do if your pup ends up eating some.

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Contrary to popular belief, chocolate and dogs  are not a good combination. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine. Theobromine is found in the cocoa bean and causes increased urination and affects the nervous system and heart. It is a chemical stimulant that belongs in the same category as caffeine and theophylline.

Most chocolates vary with the amount of theobromine they contain, but even a small dose can create a large problem for your dog and can make him very sick. There is no known antidote to cure a dog with chocolate poisoning, so it is very important to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible if he has eaten chocolate.

Symptoms may not appear for a few hours, and may be confused with a different illness. The longer chocolate stays in your dog’s system without treatment, the more damage it will do. Chocolate poisoning may eventually lead to cardiac arrest.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Panting
  • Muscle spasms
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blue/grey colored gums

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate:

There are a few steps to treatment to help your dog’s case of chocolate poisoning. Some may be minor treatments, depending on how much chocolate and what kind was eaten. Always contact a veterinarian or animal poison control and follow proper procedures. 

The first step to treating dogs eating chocolate is to collect some information before calling animal poison control or the vet.

- What kind of chocolate did your dog eat? Candy bar? Baking chocolate? White chocolate?
- What breed is your dog?
- How much does your dog weigh? 
- Is there evidence around? This will help to show serving sizes on the packaging.
- Has your dog shown any symptoms?
- How long has it been since he ate the chocolate?
- What kind of symptoms is he portraying?

Next, you will likely have to induce vomiting. This is recommended for the first few hours that your dog consumed chocolate. If it has been longer than 12 hours, you should not induce vomiting because it may damage your dog’s esophagus.

Types Of Chocolate:  

The amount of theobromine varies in different types of chocolate. Certain types of chocolate may not pose a serious risk for your dog, but may just give him a bout of diarrhea and vomiting. However, some types of chocolate may cause serious damage and lead to death if they do not get treatment right away.

The following list shows the types of chocolate from least harmful to most dangerous:

- White chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate
- Baker’s (unsweetened) chocolate

White chocolate contains roughly 1mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate, while baker’s chocolate contains about 465mg of theobromine per ounce. This is a huge difference, and will be a very important factor in the symptoms your dog may show.

If you suspect your dog may have eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately. For more information about dogs eating chocolate, symptoms, treatment options and more, visit  


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