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What will happen if my dog eats chocolate?

Many dog owners already know that dogs and chocolate don’t mix. Chocolate is bad for dogs and can result in a serious medical emergency if they eat an amount that their body can’t handle. As a dog owner, you should do your best to keep chocolate out of your dog's reach, find out what to do in the event your dog does eat more than their body can safely process and the signs to look out for that show your dog needs immediate medical attention.


What is in chocolate that is toxic to dogs?

The two substances in chocolate that are toxic to dogs are theobromine and caffeine, both of which occur naturally in cacao beans. If your dog consumes enough of these substances, their heart rate will speed up and their nervous system will become stimulated to unhealthy levels. Concentration levels of these substances differ depending on the type of chocolate - with higher levels making the chocolate more toxic. As a rule of thumb, darker varieties mostly contain higher levels than milk and white varieties, but this is not always the case. The most toxic type of chocolate to dogs is cocoa powder as the theobromine content is the highest. However, no chocolate is good for your dog, so you should do everything you can to keep it away from prying noses and paws.


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What signs indicate your dog has eaten too much chocolate?

If your dog does eat chocolate, they may become sick and vomit. This all depends on how much chocolate they digest. Negative reactions in dogs from consuming chocolate usually occur within 6 to 12 hours and can include: vomiting, diarrhoea, increased urination, abnormal heart rate, shaking and in more serious circumstances, seizures or collapsing. Older dogs and dogs with heart conditions are at much higher risk when they suffer from these symptoms and should be dealt with more caution.


What do you do if your dog eats chocolate?

If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, you should call your vet immediately for treatment. If they are satisfied that the amount consumed won’t harm your dog, they may simply advise you to continue to monitor your dog and contact them again if their condition worsens. However, if your vet thinks your dog might be in trouble, they will need to administer treatment as soon as possible. In these circumstances, it’s a good idea to bring your vet the chocolate wrappers to help them work out whether your dog has ingested a toxic dose. In most cases, your vet will make your dog vomit and help them flush out their stomach. They may also feed them activated charcoal to absorb any theobromine remaining in your dog’s digestive system. In more serious cases where a major overdose has occurred, they may administer intravenous fluids and medication to control your dog's heart rate.


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Other festive dishes to watch out for

Besides chocolate, it’s important to remember that food from the table that is rich in fats like lamb or sausages can cause issues such pancreatitis in dogs. This is why table scraps should be avoided for your four-legged friends. That being said, we all know that dogs will be dogs and can sometimes get into foods they shouldn’t - especially when there's lots lying around over Christmas. So remember to keep chocolate and other toxic foods safely out of their reach and not leave anything that may harm them within jumping range. Here is a list of Christmas foods that your pet shouldn’t eat.



  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Fatty Foods
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
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