"My dog ate chocolate. What do I do?" It's a question that many dog owners will ask themselves at some point.
If you find yourself asking this question, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. Most dogs that eat chocolate recover well, but because chocolate can be toxic to dogs, you do need to take steps to keep your pet from coming to harm. These steps include ensuring the dog's immediate safety, assessing the severity of the problem and enlisting professional help when necessary.
If you familiarize yourself with the suggestions detailed below, you will know exactly what to do if your dog eats chocolate.
1. Take the Chocolate Away From the Dog
If you find your dog eating chocolate, the first thing you need to do is get the chocolate away from your pet.
Once you stop the dog from eating any additional chocolate, you should make sure the animal does not have wrappers or packaging stuck in its mouth or its throat.
Also, make sure the dog is acting normally and is not gagging, having difficulty breathing or showing other concerning symptoms.
After making sure the dog is stable, it is time to assess the situation. Do not treat the dog or try to induce vomiting without specific instructions from your veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center. Unnecessary or inappropriate treatment often does more harm than good.
2. Determine How Much Chocolate Your Dog Actually Ate
Once your dog is clean, safe and removed from temptation, you need to determine what the animal actually ate. To do this, examine what is left in the box of chocolate or the chocolate wrapper. Compare this to the amount originally in the packaging.
A rough guess is fine, but to be safe, you should try to estimate the largest amount the dog could possibly have eaten.
After you have a rough idea of how many ounces of chocolate your dog has eaten, you need to consider the type of chocolate the animal ate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. This is because chocolate toxicity is caused by methylxanthines, including theobromine, in chocolate, and dark chocolate has a higher concentration of these compounds than milk chocolate and other light chocolates.
White chocolate does not contain significant amounts of methylxanthines, so any symptoms a dog experiences after eating white chocolate are due either to the fat and sugar in the candy or to the dog having ingested candy wrappers.
Armed with the knowledge of what and how much your dog ate, you can use one of the many charts available online to determine whether or not the animal has ingested a potentially dangerous amount of chocolate. This table from the Veterinary Information Network, which uses dose ranges from the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine, is often used and recommended by veterinarians.
3. Call Your Veterinarian or an Animal Poison Control Center
If you believe your pet could possibly have eaten enough chocolate to cause a moderate to severe reaction or you are uncertain how much chocolate your dog has actually eaten, contact a pet poison control center or your veterinarian for instructions.
If your pet is showing potential symptoms of chocolate toxicity, including:
- Muscle contractions
- Rapid breathing
- Extreme agitation
- Severe vomiating
- Increased heart rate
- Any other signs that seems concerning
Get the animal to a veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment can prevent serious complications including sudden death.
4. Watch for Symptoms of Poisoning and Other Complications
Keep in mind that toxicity charts use averages, so you need to monitor your pet even if the amount the dog ate was not toxic according to a dose chart.
Some dogs can have severe reactions to chocolate after ingesting small amounts, and other dogs can eat relatively large amounts and display milder symptoms than we would normally expect.
In addition, dogs that eat large amounts of chocolate candy or cookies that contain a lot of fat have the potential to develop gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. If a dog ingests wrappers or other packaging while consuming chocolate, the animal is also at risk for gastrointestinal obstruction.
After eating a significant amount of any unusual food, including candy, many dogs will develop mild to moderate gastrointestinal symptoms. These can include mild vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite for a day or two. Generally, these symptoms resolve quickly with only supportive care.
Contact your veterinarian for advice on dealing with your dog's specific symptoms. If your dog's symptoms persist, worsen, are severe or the dog develops abdominal tenderness, runs a fever, has seizures, is in obvious pain, has breathing problems or develops a rapid heart rate, take the dog to an emergency clinic immediately.
These symptoms could indicate a potentially serious or life-threatening condition.
Get The Essential Checklist Of Foods Dogs Cannot Eat
Do you truly know what foods are dangerous for dogs?
As you know dogs love to eat. But not everything that we keep around the house is good for them. In fact, some of it can be extremely dangerous.
We've put together a checklist of 27 very common household foods that dogs cannot eat.
Some of these foods have only mild consequences if eaten by your canine friend, but other foods can have potentially fatal consequences.
- Chocolate from the Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Chocolate Toxicity Table from the Veterinary Information Network.
- Toxicology Brief from dvm360.
- What To Do If Your Pet Is Poisoned from the Animal Poison Control Center at the ASPCA.
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