Can Dogs Get Sick From Chocolate?

If you're feeling like a sweet treat, nothing hits the spot quite like chocolate. Not only does the flavor taste great, it also interacts with us on a chemical level. Cocoa is packed with benefits to humans. It can reduce blood pressure, improve your memory and even make your mood better! The richer the better, with dark chocolate proven to lower stress and help with the absorption of sugars. If chocolate is so good for us, can we assume it is good for our canine companions? Or does chocolate make dogs sick?

Can Dogs Get Sick From Chocolate?

YES!

Chocolate and dogs simply do not mix. The smaller the dog and the darker the chocolate, the worse the interaction will be - some even fatal! What works out to be a delicious treat for humans can overstimulate a pooch to the point where their heart quits. It's the combination of theobromine and caffeine that proves to be too much for pups. At the least, your dog will have some pretty nasty tummy troubles after getting into chocolate. In most instances, the effect is dangerous, so it's best to avoid the situation in every case.

Does My Dog Have Chocolate Poisoning?

Poisoning can occur even after a small amount of chocolate is eaten. For example, a dog under the weight of 50 pounds can experience severe toxicity after consuming less than an ounce of bakers chocolate. If you suspect that your four-legged friend has consumed chocolate, take them to a clinic or animal hospital immediately. Signs of poisoning from this sweet treat include vomiting and diarrhea. The stimulants in the chocolate will begin to make your pooch's heart race. Panting and pacing are common. Severe poisoning can even lead to seizures, coma or death.

Eating any type of chocolate can lead to sickness in dogs. In general, the darker the chocolate, the less of it needed to cause serious problems. Call your vet as soon as you suspect that Fido has gotten into the fudge. The longer you wait, the more of the toxin will have entered the bloodstream. With poisonings, it's best not to wait until the substance eaten is confirmed. Learn more about the toxicity of chocolate here: Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Chocolate Poisoning?

Fast action can help get the toxins out before they wreak havoc. The veterinarian may use medication to induce vomiting in your dog along with active charcoal to reduce the amount of toxins absorbed. Your furry companion may have to be hospitalized so that intravenous fluids can be administered as a form of supportive therapy. Medication may be needed to regulate the heart.

How Are the Effects of Chocolate Similar in Dogs and Humans?

The chemicals in chocolate cause some of the same things to happen whether you walk on two legs or four. These effects include:

  • Bowel and stomach issues

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Central nervous system stimulation

How Are the Effects of Chocolate Different in Dogs and Humans?

There are some pretty big differences in how chocolate affects us versus our pooches. The main differences are:

  • Dogs get severe gastrointestinal upset, while people tend to just have a bit of heartburn or bloating

  • Chocolate can cause muscle tremors and even seizures in dogs

  • Humans experience a boost in good hormones after munching some cocoa

Case Study

Teaching your dog not to steal food isn't the easiest thing to do, but it can prevent a lot of trouble. A curious Beagle came across a chocolate bar and consumed it in one sitting. Thankfully, the pet owners knew the dangers of chocolate and immediately took their dog to the vet. The veterinarian induced vomiting and provided supportive therapy. After a two-night hospital stay, this lucky Beagle recovered and was able to return home. 

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