My Dog Ate Chocolate: What Should I Do?

Four minutes
Sep 25, 2023

Chocolate is a major part of celebrations. Whether it's Easter candy, Hanukkah chocolate coins, or an anniversary tiramisu, chocolate is a common treat for many people.

Pet parents should be wary of this yummy treat because chocolate is a major toxin for dogs. Let’s discuss why that is and what to do if your pup gets into your sweet stash.

Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Yes, chocolate is bad for dogs. They shouldn’t be given chocolate under any circumstances because it contains harmful compounds — theobromine and caffeine — that elevate a dog’s heart rate and stimulate their nervous system.¹ Chocolate poisoning can potentially cause life-threatening complications in dogs. In fact, death has been reported in animals that have eaten mulch made from cocoa-bean hulls.¹

Skip this treat and keep it far away from your dog. There are dozens of other foods that are safe for your dogs to eat.

My Dog Ate Chocolate. How Long Before Symptoms Set In?

Typically, signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs begin within 6 – 12 hours after consumption. Look out for symptoms like:¹

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive peeing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restless
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Bluish tinge to skin and gums
  • Fever

In extreme cases, the symptoms can progress towards hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures.

What To Do if Your Dog Ate Chocolate

It’s best not to attempt first aid at home. Pet parents should act fast and get their dogs to an emergency vet if they notice these symptoms. Take the chocolate’s packaging with you to the vet so they can determine how much of the toxin your pet consumed.

While at the clinic, your pet may be stabilized with medications and fluids. Vomiting may be induced with activated charcoal or peroxide if your pet hasn’t expelled the chocolate on their own.¹ Your vet may choose to hospitalize your dog for up to 72 hours for severe cases.

This can be a very stressful time for pet parents and the last thing you want to worry about is the bill. Investing in dog insurance could help during an emergency like this so that you can focus more on ensuring your dog returns to their old, happy self rather than the cost of their care.

My Dog Ate Chocolate but Is Acting Fine, Why Is That?

The good news is that chocolate isn’t always fatal for dogs. There are instances where dogs eat chocolate and are just fine. The main reasons why this is the case is because not all chocolates are created equal and every dog is different.

Chocolate toxicity in dogs can vary

As a rule, darker chocolate contains higher levels of toxicity. According to Merck’s Veterinary Manual, the following types of chocolate have the highest to the lowest amount of toxins in them, respectively:2

  • Dry cocoa powder
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate
  • Cocoa bean hulls
  • Semisweet chocolate
  • Sweet dark chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • White chocolate

Additionally, your dog’s weight impacts how the chocolate affects their body. Small dogs are more susceptible to chocolate poisoning than larger dogs. For example, a Great Dane that munches on a chocolate chip cookie may not react the same as a shih tzu.

If your dog is acting fine, it doesn’t hurt to call your vet. They can use a dog chocolate toxicity calculator to figure out how much of the toxins your pet actually consumed compared to their body weight.2 After that, they may ask you to monitor your dog for any signs of poisoning.

MetLife Pet Insurance Is Ready To Help in an Emergency

Chocolate poisoning in dogs can be a scary thing for pet parents to experience. Symptoms can set in within hours of consumption and given how commonplace chocolate is in our lives, the dangers seem to be lurking everywhere.

Take a moment to get a free quote so vet bills can’t stand in the way of what matters: keeping your best pal healthy and safe.

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¹ “Food Hazards (Chocolate),” Merck Veterinary Manual

2 “Etiology of Chocolate Toxicosis in Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual

Coverage underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 or Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations. Application is subject to underwriting review. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC for details. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator for this coverage. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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