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My Dog Ate Chocolate - Now What?

My Dog Ate Chocolate

How many times have we as pet owners heard how bad or even lethal chocolate can be for dogs? Exactly how true is this though? Should you rush your pet to the vet if they snag one of your Hershey Kisses?

My Dog Ate Chocolate

How many times have we as pet owners heard how bad or even lethal chocolate can be for dogs? Exactly how true is this though? Should you rush your pet to the vet if they snag one of your Hershey Kisses? Should you not be alarmed if they snatched a whole bag of chocolate chips and gobbled it down? There is definitely a formula you can use in order to avoid unnecessary frantic drives to the vet or to determine whether you pet really does need medical attention. It might just help you if you are sitting there looking at an empty candy wrapper and saying to yourself "My dog ate chocolate... now what?".

First, let’s travel back to our school days and partake in a bit of a science lesson. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs in ample quantities. This substance is a compound in the xanthine family which is home to similar compounds such as caffeine. They are considered stimulants and can cause problems in animals. Xanthines affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system and peripheral nerves. They tend to have that all too familiar diuretic effect as well.

My Dog Ate Chocolate

On average, it takes quite a bit of theobromine to cause a detrimental toxic reaction in pets. There are many variables to take into account such as the makeup of the specific kind of chocolate, the dog’s size and their sensitivity to chemicals. Below is a relatively accurate formula to use to determine if the amount of chocolate your dog has ingested is cause for alarm.

The Formula


For these calculations we are considering average theobromine levels in 3 common types of chocolate. Milk chocolate contains about 45mg of theobromine per ounce. Semisweet chocolate contains approximately 150mg per ounce and Baker’s chocolate comes in at around 400mg per ounce.

If we use the standard toxic dose of chocolate for dogs, which is 100 mg per kilogram of weight we can work out the following guidelines:

1 ounce for every  1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce for every  3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce for every  9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.

For example, 2 ounces of Baker's chocolate can cause great risk to a 15 pound dog. Yet, 2 ounces of Milk chocolate usually will only cause brief digestive problems.

The Treatment


Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for a chocolate overdose in dogs. If you have no idea how much chocolate your dog has ingested then it is best to induce vomiting within the first couple of hours after they have eaten it. Giving them a dose of activated charcoal may help to stop the harmful compounds from entering into the bloodstream.  In more severe cases an anticonvulsant might be administered if neurological symptoms occur and need to be controlled.

Milk chocolate usually leads to diarrhea in the time span of 12 to 24 hours after the initial ingestion. Plenty of fluids should be given to the dog to avoid dehydration.

My Dog Ate ChocolateIt is always best to be on the safe side and contact your family vet if you suspect there is a problem or if your dog has ingested a large amount of chocolate.  They are always willing to give you professional advice on what to do next, depending on the amount of chocolate your pet has eaten.

Russ Barker has heard quite a few friends and family members relating stories about how their curious canines have found their way into chocolate candies which lead him to do a little research on the common problem of "My dog ate chocolate!" Russ is the blog magician at Dog Tag Art, a company devoted to pet safety and style through their identification product line. With their classy pet ID tags, the are helping to increase the number of pets with up-to-date and visible indentification. Their custom dog tags are sure to be popular with any pet owner and furry friends.
Russ Barker

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