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Ask A Vet: What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Chocolate?

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Many of us love chocolate, and our dogs may seem interested in the tasty treat they see us eating. Our dogs can smell it (even better than we can) and they see us indulge. But they do not know that chocolate can make them very ill, or could even be fatal.

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There are two ingredients toxic to dogs in chocolate, theobromine and caffeine. Caffeine can cause tremors, increased heart rate, and other cardiovascular side effects. Theobromine is actually the more dangerous of the two, as even low doses of it will require medical treatment.

Each dog will react differently to the ingestion of chocolate, so if you see your dog eat it, don’t waste time searching for the answer online. Call your vet, the animal ER, or even the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

It will help your vet if you know what type of chocolate it was. Different kinds of chocolate contain differing amounts of the toxic components. White chocolate and milk chocolate are the least hazardous. Dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate are the most hazardous, since they contain the highest amounts of theobromine.

If your vet says to come in, grab the bag or packaging of the item because it will be labeled with the exact weight of the chocolate inside. Your vet will then be able to calculate the toxic dose and use it to guide the aggressiveness of treatment. Also, the label contains information about any other ingredients it might contain, like xylitol (which is toxic on its own). It helps to know what kind of wrapper might have gone down with the chocolate too, in case it could cause a physical obstruction.

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Also, if you can remember how much of the chocolate was left in the bag, your vet would appreciate an idea of how much was consumed. Ask your family members if they know before you leave. If you are not sure, it is always better to assume the dog ate more than he did and be aggressive in treatment, rather than be sorry because you were too conservative.

It is hard to stay ahead of our dogs when they are on a mission with their sweet tooth, but the best way to avoid toxic trouble with chocolate is to never have your dog eat it at all. Even small amounts of chocolate can cause a dog to vomit and no one wants to see their dog suffer.

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