I’ve had more experience with dogs and chocolate than I’d like.
This is what I’ve learned:
Chocolate is toxic to dogs because of a chemical called theobromine, a stimulant.
Toxicity depends on type of chocolate, amount ingested and the size of your dog.
The most toxic chocolates are cocoa, baking chocolate and dark chocolate, while milk chocolate and white chocolate are less toxic. (Read more here.)
If you catch it within two hours of ingestion, give your dog hydrogen peroxide.
Add one teaspoon/5mm of hydrogen peroxide for every ten pounds of body weight to yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Your dog will slurp it down.
Vomiting should begin within 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, give your dog a second dose. If that does not work, get your dog to the vet! (Read more here.)
If your dog eats too much chocolate and you don’t catch it, she’ll have vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, difficulty walking and seizures.
Call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) and/or your vet.
Know the location of a local emergency vet.
Chocolate Story Number One
Four years ago, my sixty pound Lab Kinsey woke me up pacing and promptly threw up on my bedroom floor. I put her outside in her pen, and got up to check on her a few hours later. There was vomit and diarrhea everywhere. When I let her out, she could hardly walk and collapsed in the backyard. It was four in the morning, so I loaded her into my car and rushed her to the emergency vet.
The first thing the vet did was give her medication to make her feel more comfortable. Next, the vet took x-rays and told me it looked like her intestine was twisted. If that was the case, Kinsey would need surgery to remove the twisted part of her intestine and the success rate was low. When they took her in for a second x-ray, she threw up on the table and it smelled like chocolate. They immediately changed the diagnosis to chocolate poisoning. The vet and the tech were relieved, so I knew this diagnosis wasn’t as serious. I took her to my regular vet and she spent the day there. My vet estimated she’d eaten about a pound of chocolate. They gave her fluids, and she came home with me that night.
I’m sure Kinsey ate the chocolate when she was with me at work. I’d taken her along on the last day of school, and there were so many kids with candy! I don’t know if a student fed Kinsey chocolate, or if she found some on the ground. Whatever the case, I’ve never had one of my dogs that sick.
In summary, if your dog can’t walk, has tremors or seizures, get her to the vet immediately! They will be able to make her more comfortable, give her fluids and increase the chance of a full recovery.
Chocolate Story Number Two
I’m currently having my kitchen redone. Before the old cupboards could be removed, I had to empty everything into large plastic tubs. I put a package of Mexican Hot Chocolate into one of the tubs. They’re round balls of chocolate, sugar and cinnamon that you drop into hot milk. Not thinking, I set them in the bin without clipping the lid tight.
The next morning, after I’d penned the dogs up to go to work, I saw the empty bag of Mexican Hot Chocolate on the ground. I knew immediately that either Kinsey or Rook had eaten them all when I was in the shower. So, both dogs got a dish of vanilla yogurt mixed with four teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide. As I watched them slurp down the yogurt I felt tremendously guilty. They’d be throwing up within minutes, and it was my fault.
Rook threw up the wrappings from the Mexican Hot Chocolate. He continued to throw up on and off for twenty-four hours. He wouldn’t eat. He had diarrhea. But, his affect didn’t change. He ran as hard as he could on our walks. He was happy to see me. He played with Kinsey. He continued to drink water. Thank goodness I’d given him the hydrogen peroxide, and he didn’t get as sick as Kinsey had four years ago! Unfortunately, he didn’t get his appetite back for forty-eight hours, and the diarrhea lasted ten days.
Because of the hydrogen peroxide, Kinsey threw up the dog food she’d had that morning. But, after that, she was fine. She ate dinner and did not get diarrhea.
Please be careful with chocolate. Let kids or house guests know how dangerous it is for dogs, and keep it high on a shelf or locked tight in a bin. There’s nothing worse than seeing your dog suffer, especially when it’s preventable!