What to do when your dog eats chocolate
Any pet owner worth their salt knows that dogs and chocolate do not mix. This little bit of general knowledge has resulted in millions of panicked phone calls to vet offices across the nation. During particularly candy-centric holidays, (Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter) it’s easy for dogs to get their paws on chocolate, no matter how many precautions you may take, which is why it’s important to know exactly what to do when your dog eats chocolate.
Although chocolate spells doom for devoted pet owners, people outside of vet offices seem to know very little about the correlation between chocolate and canine health. Knowing exactly why chocolate is considered dangerous to dogs can help you combat the problem. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is an alkaloid that can affect canine nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Many dog owners will be happy and relieved to know that milk chocolate is only harmful in very large quantities. Other chocolates such as semisweet and baker’s chocolate can be dangerous, and sometimes lethal, in much smaller doses.
In order to determine what to do when your dog eats chocolate, use these simple guidelines in order to determine whether your pet’s health is at risk:
- 1 ounce of milk chocolate per 1 pound of dog weight
- 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate per 3 pounds of dog weight
- 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate per 9 pounds of dog weight
What to do when your dog eats chocolate:
1. What, How and When?
The first step in figuring out what to do when your dog eats chocolate is determining what kind of chocolate they ate. Secondly, you should determine how much chocolate was ingested. Lastly, it is important to determine when the dog ingested the chocolate. If you’re unable to determine the what, how and when, you should contact your veterinarian as a precaution.
It is always important to contact a veterinarian before attempting home treatment. Depending on your circumstances, your vet may suggest home treatment. When treating your dog for chocolate poisoning, your veterinarian will instruct you to induce vomiting by giving them a hydrogen peroxide solution or Ipecac. How much will depend upon the weight of your dog. Once your dog has vomited, you will then have to administer charcoal tablets, powder or liquid to prevent the poison from absorbing into your dogs blood stream.
3. Watch for symptoms
If you followed your veterinarians instructions for home treatment, it is important to monitor your dog for symptoms of poisoning. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased irritability, muscle tremors and hyperactivity. These symptoms usually present themselves within the first few hours after ingestion. If your dog develops any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
It is always wise to keep poison control information on hand for your dog, and to have access to a 24 hour veterinarian.