Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Youtube Play

What is Chocolate Poisoning?

Chocolate is derived from the roasted, ground seeds of the cacao tree and contains the methylxanthine theobromine – a chemical similar to caffeine. Theobromine acts as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and smooth muscle relaxant in animals and humans. Dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly, thereby enhancing the effects and toxicity to these pets. Chocolate ingestion is one of the most common causes of canine poisoning and can lead to illness and death. Contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate.Chocolate is toxic as it contains the methylxanthine theobromine. Theobromine is similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Theobromine can be poisonous and result in severe clinical signs, especially if untreated.

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

Chocolate Poisoning Average Cost

From 272 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms do not appear until 6-12 hours after chocolate ingestion. Symptoms that your pet may have chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

The type and amount of chocolate ingested by your pet will determine the level of severity. The more concentrated the level of theobromine in the chocolate, the more toxic the dose.

0.2 ounces of baker’s chocolate is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity in a 10-pound dog. 1.6 ounces of milk chocolate is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity in a 10-pound dog.

Concentrations of theobromine in various forms of chocolate (generalizations):

  • White chocolate – 1mg/ounce
  • Milk chocolate – 60mg/ounce
  • Semi-sweet chocolate – 260mg/ounce
  • Dark chocolate – 300mg/ounce
  • Baking chocolate – 450mg/ounce
  • Cocoa shell yard mulch – 300-1200mg/ounce

Though white chocolate and milk chocolate have lower levels of theobromine, the sugar and fat content can cause potentially life-threatening pancreatitis.

Theobromine levels and effect on the body:

  • 20mg theobromine per kg body weight - mild gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Greater than 40mg/kg - heart arrhythmias
  • Greater than 60mg/kg – muscle tremors, seizures
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, treatment is initiated immediately without waiting for official diagnosis. Try to calculate how much the pet has eaten (how many candy bars, brownies, cake) and note the type and brand of chocolate (have the packaging available if possible). Be sure when scheduling a veterinarian appointment to tell her how much your pet weighs, describe when you think your pet ate the chocolate, how much, and of what type.

If the pet has not eaten a toxic amount of chocolate, a veterinarian may ask you to induce vomiting at home and/or carefully monitor your pet for symptoms over the next 4-6 hours.

If the pet has eaten a potentially toxic amount of chocolate in the last 1-2 hours, your vet will ask you to induce vomiting at home or bring the pet to the clinic to induce vomiting. The goal is to induce vomiting as quickly as possible. After 2 hours, the toxin has already entered the bloodstream and it may be too late for vomiting to aid in treating toxicity.

Your veterinarian will take a thorough history to determine whether your pet has gotten into trash, cocoa shell yard mulch, or other toxic substances or whether another underlying cause of symptoms is present. A complete physical exam will help in diagnosis.

Blood analysis (complete blood cell count and chemistry) and urinalysis will aid in detection of disease or organ failure. Electrocardiography (EKG) can detect heart arrhythmias and abnormalities. Radiographs may aid in ruling out other causes for symptoms.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

By the time symptoms of chocolate poisoning appear, supportive therapy is the only treatment. There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity.

Inducing vomiting

Induction of vomiting must be done within 2 hours of chocolate ingestion to be effective. If you are too far from the veterinary clinic, your vet may ask that you induce vomiting at home. Follow the instructions given by your veterinarian carefully. You may want to go outdoors or have a large bowl nearby. By mouth, give your pet one-half tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide (the usual household concentration) for every 10 pounds of body weight. You can use a syringe without a needle, a turkey baster, or a medicine dropper. The pet should vomit within 10 minutes. If the pet does not vomit, call your vet who may suggest bringing it to the clinic or giving additional hydrogen peroxide.

If you decide to take your pet to the clinic to induce vomiting, the veterinarian may use a drug like apomorphine to induce vomiting right away.

Activated charcoal absorption

In cases of chocolate ingestion, the veterinarian will often give a solution of activated charcoal orally to absorb any remaining theobromine from the gastrointestinal tract.

After vomiting induction and/or charcoal treatment, your pet will need to be monitored for symptoms for 4-6 hours. If symptoms occur, supportive therapy will be required to keep your pet safe and stable until toxicity wears off. This can take up to 72 hours.

Supportive therapy

Intravenous fluid administration can help to dilute theobromine levels in the bloodstream and promote excretion. Benzodiazepines (valium) may be administered to control seizures and muscle tremors. Anti-arrhythmic medications can aid in controlling heart arrhythmias.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

A pet that has been treated for symptoms of chocolate poisoning will need to be monitored until symptoms reside. Recovery from chocolate toxicity depends on the severity and how soon treatment was administered. Recovery can be complete and prognosis good if caught and treated early (within 2 hours of ingestion).

Chocolate poisoning can be lethal at high doses. Always keep chocolate out of reach of your pet. Hiding chocolate is not sufficient since chocolate has a strong smell and a pet can find it. Keep chocolate where a pet cannot get to it (high up and in a sealed container).

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Chocolate Poisoning Average Cost

From 272 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

arrow-up-icon

Top

Chocolate Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

Six Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Stool Initially But No Stool Now Although Has Urge For Bm

Restless Vomited x2 Excessive thirst Quiet He may have had chocolate but not sure Symptoms for 24 hrs

Feb. 14, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, THis is my favorite calculator to see if this is the reason that your dog is showing these issues. Larger dogs need a lot of chocolate to cause issues. For vomiting, you can give Pepcid at home. Also feeding a bland diet such as boiled chicken and rice will help. If these signs continue, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. They can prescribe them cerenia to help with the vomiting and examine him to see if there is anything else wrong.

Feb. 14, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

12 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dachshund got in to some Hershey kisses about 15 of then and ate some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This was 24hrs ago. He is not vomiting just acting a little weird. We went to bed last night and he got up 5 to 6 times and has wanted to go in and out a little more then normal today. Should I be worried?

Jan. 1, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

12 Recommendations

After 24 hours after eating chocolate and not showing any neurological issues he should be just fine.

Jan. 1, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

Chocolate Poisoning Average Cost

From 272 quotes ranging from $300 - $6,500

Average Cost

$2,500

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

advertisement image
ask a vet placeholder
Need pet insurance?