What to do if your dog eats chocolate

Dog at the vet after eating chocolate
It can make dogs really sick (Picture: Getty)

Easter may be over, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t chocolate lying around the house.

You probably already know that dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate. But you might be wondering whether it’s one of those rules that doesn’t matter if you break, like ‘red and green should never be seen’ or ‘no dessert until you’ve eaten your dinner’.

It’s not exactly something you’d try out to see, but if your dog has snaffled some of your chocolates, you need to know how quickly and strongly you should respond.

Here, we have an ultimate guide of why it’s bad for pups to eat the sweet stuff, and what you should do if it happens.

Why is chocolate dangerous to dogs?

Chocolate is harmful to dogs because it contains theobromine.

The effects of theobromine are similar to coffee as it is a stimulant. If it is eaten by a dog in large quantities, it can cause vomiting, increased heart rate, internal bleeding, agitation and seizures.

Where in humans this is easily metabolised, dogs aren’t able to do this, meaning it builds up in their bodies and becomes toxic.

Train your pet to understand obedience. Dogs should at least understand basic direction like “sit” and “stay.” In an emergency situation these cues could save your pet’s life.

Some dogs also find that the cocoa butter, lactose, and sugar included in chocolate gives them an upset stomach.

With the advent of new types of sweets, too, there are also other chemicals that could harm your pet. For example, a dog died this year after eating brownies that contained the sweetener xylitol , which is poisonous to dogs.

Dog with chocolate
No matter how cute they are, it’s better to keep them away (Picture: Getty)

How to know if your dog has been poisoned by chocolate?

Depending on how much chocolate your dog has eaten, you may not see any signs at all.

If your dog is large or has eaten a small amount of chocolate, they may simply have the same symptoms we experience during food poisoning; for example, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If the situation is more severe, you may see that they have extreme thirst, muscle rigidity, agitation, hyperactive behaviour, excessive panting, pacing and seizures.

These symptoms tend to show between four and twelve hours of when your dog first ate the chocolate.

What to do if your dog eats chocolate

Even if you think it might not be serious, if you know or suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, call your vet right away.

Add Brushing Your Dogs Teeth into Their Grooming Routine. Get in the habit of brushing your dogs teeth daily to avoid expensive dental visits later. You can use a human toothbrush if you like (though they make ones for dogs, too), but be sure to pick up tooth paste that’s formulated for dogs.

You can tell them what you think they’ve ingested, and they can work out based on the size of your dog whether it’s serious.

It also all depends on which type of chocolate they ate, so try and keep a note of this. Cocoa powder, for example, will likely be more toxic than white chocolate.

There’s no cure for theobromine poisining, so if the vet needs to treat your pooch, they’ll likely induce vomiting. In some cases, they may put the dog on a drip to try control their hydration and heart rate.

They may also give the dog activated charcoal to try and soak up what’s in their stomach.

Essentially, time is of the essence, so call the vet sooner rather than later. This way, if they do need treatment, it can be as effective as possible.

It’s worth noting, too, that if you’ve got any sweetie stores in the house, it’s best to keep them out of pup’s reach. £10 for a dog-proof cupboard lock could save you thousands of vet fees and a whole lot of heartache if anything bad happens.

For those who can’t resist their dog’s calls for treats, most pet stores will sell dog-friendly chocolate chips.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a dog in the house means more bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people with no pets.

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