Can dogs eat chocolate?

Many owners know that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but do you know why? An accidental chocolate button dropped on the floor can be gone in instant—so be sure that you know what do if your dog eats chocolate.
Happy Jack Russell
Happy Jack Russell
Happy Jack Russell

Can dogs eat chocolate?

Although not all canines are as susceptible to becoming ill from eating chocolate, it isn’t good for any dog. Feeding your dog some of your Easter egg as a treat will probably have the opposite effect that you intend, and can result in some hefty vet bills.

Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which human beings can metabolise naturally, but dogs can’t. Due to this, ingesting any foodstuff containing it leads to a build-up of theobromine, which can become toxic. Some chocolate contains higher levels than others: for example, dark, bitter chocolate has a higher theobromine content than milk chocolate. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine the exact amount of chocolate that a dog has to consume to become at risk of serious illness, as every animal’s metabolic rate is different.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs

If you suspect your dog of eating chocolate, keep a close eye on them for the next 24 hours, as this is when symptoms will most likely start to develop. Some of the signs you can look out for are listed below:

  • Restlessness
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures

It may be that your dog vomits the chocolate fairly quickly, and doesn’t progress on to more serious symptoms. However, if you’re aware of the amount and type of chocolate that has been consumed, it’s advisable to contact a vet for further advice.

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What to do if your dog eats chocolate

If your pet has stolen the Easter egg stash, you might not even realise what has happened until they start exhibiting symptoms. Contact a vet as soon as possible, with as much information as you have about your dog and the chocolate they have eaten. Investigating the wrappers that might have been left behind can be a useful way of determining just how much of the good stuff your pet has got their paws on! Knowing a rough estimate of the size and weight of your dog will also help a vet to determine the kind of danger they might be in from the amount of theobromine they have ingested.

If you see a vet soon after your dog has eaten chocolate, they may induce vomiting to try and rid the toxic ingredient from their system before it has time to build up. Never induce vomiting on your own at home, without the express advice of a professional vet. If your dog begins to exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, your vet will begin a series of reactive treatments, which may include IV fluids and antiarrhythmic drugs, if your dog of showing signs of seizures.

If you notice your dog eating chocolate, the best thing you can do for them is to contact a vet as soon as possible. Inducing vomiting early on will give your pet the best chance of avoiding long-term, serious or fatal complications, so the earlier they can be seen by a vet the better.

Alternatives to chocolate for dogs

We all like to treat our pets, and there are still plenty of ways to do that without using chocolate! Stick to safe, approved, and specially formulated dog treats that be eaten without risk of illness. Although a human would love a nice slice of chocolate cake, you can be sure that your dog will prefer a few hours spent chewing on a rawhide bone, or a quick and satisfying dip into the dog biscuit bag. There are numerous dog treats available that aren’t only tasty for your dog, but also provide a range of benefits for their health, like added nutrients and dental care.

Don’t be tempted to treat your dog to chocolate at Easter or Christmas—or it could be a more dramatic family occasion than you had intended! Stick to safe and specially formulated dog treats to treat your dog the right way.