Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
No, dogs should not eat chocolate. While there is a spectrum of how much chocolate a dog can ingest without being poisoned, a good rule of thumb is to avoid any and all cocoa-based products. Most of us aren’t feeding our dogs chocolate, instead we often find that our pups have gotten into something they shouldn’t have, like the trash, a purse, or a grocery bag.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs, but you may not have a medical emergency if what was ingested was milk chocolate (or white chocolate). The ingredients behind chocolate’s toxicity, theobromine and caffeine, can speed up the heart rate and nervous system. Different kinds of chocolate will have different theobromine levels: cocoa, bitter chocolate, and dark chocolate contain high levels, whereas milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest. The high theobromine content in dark chocolate means it can take only a small amount (less than an ounce) to poison a dog.
PetMD has a very helpful chocolate toxicity meter where you can enter your dog’s weight and the approximate amount of whatever kind of chocolate was consumed to determine how dangerous the level might be.
With large amounts, theobromine can produce the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing / excessive panting
- Increased heart rate
- Restlessness / hyperactivity
- Increased urination
- Internal bleeding
- Heart attack
What do I do if my dog eats chocolate?
If your dog is experiencing symptoms, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 and be prepared to provide your pet’s weight, how much and what kind of chocolate he ate. You can also contact your vet who will determine if your pet requires emergency care based on this information. You may be advised to induce vomiting, but never force your pet to vomit unless advised by a veterinarian.
If your dog does require emergency care, try to keep him as calm and still as possible. Treatment of dog chocolate poisoning includes inducing vomiting, activated charcoal, IV fluids, and anti-seizure drugs.
How Do I Prevent Chocolate Toxicity?
The best way to prevent chocolate toxicity in dogs is to keep chocolate packed up and away from paw’s reach. Accidents will happen, though, so being prepared to spot the signs (or even the wrappers left on the floor) means you can get to the vet in time.
Want to find out more about what dogs can and cannot eat? Check out our comprehensive guide for more information on “What Human Foods Dogs Can and Can Not Eat.”