First of all, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. While it’s true that chocolate contains an alkaloid known as “theobromine”, which is very similar to caffeine, dogs typically do need to ingest a significant amount in order to see adverse effects. That being said, a dog eating chocolate can be a serious situation, and you do need to take appropriate steps to keep your dog healthy and happy.
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Remove All Chocolate
Reaching down to grab all the chocolate in the area and trying to get it away from your dog will be your first instinct, and it’s a good one.
The first thing you have to do before anything else is get your dog away from that chocolate. However, you need to do more than just ensure that there’s no more chocolate on the counters, the floor, and in the surrounding area. You also need to check your dog’s mouth looking for chocolate that can be removed, or wrappers that could potentially gag your dog.
It’s also at this time that you need to assess the situation. If your dog has already eaten a great amount of chocolate they may be showing symptoms of poisoning. If that’s the case, you may need to administer treatment.
Decide If In-Home Treatment is Necessary
Before you call the veterinarian for help, you need to determine if you need to take immediate steps to treat your dog.
If the dog is in distress, call animal poison control and your vet immediately to get further instructions on additional help as soon as possible. If you know that your dog has eaten chocolate but isn’t showing any signs of sickness or poisoning, you may be able to perform minor treatments yourself to keep your pet safe.
First, determine how much chocolate, and what type of chocolate, the dog ate. Darker chocolate that is much more bitter and has higher levels of theobromine, therefore making it more dangerous for your dog. While white chocolate has very low levels of theobromine, it is still present so vigilance is still required if your dog has eaten any.
Next, look around the area and pick up the packaging that the chocolate was in. Compare the amount that’s left with the amount that was originally in the package to roughly determine how much your dog ate. If an estimate is the best guess you can provide, be sure to err on the higher side so that the dog can receive the best treatment possible. Once you’ve determined how much chocolate your dog has eaten, take a look at the chocolate toxicity table provided by the Veterinary Information Network. This chart will let you find your dog’s weight and compare it to different amounts of chocolate, which will help you determine whether you can expect a mild, moderate, or severe reaction in your dog.
There are certain things you can do right away if the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten was enough to cause moderate or severe reactions in your dog. One of the most recommended steps to take is to induce vomiting.
How to Make a Dog Vomit
The first step in doing this is to give your dog a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide, mixed with water or even vanilla ice cream if you need to mask the taste for your dog. Once they’ve taken the hydrogen peroxide, take them for a walk for about 15 minutes to get things moving. If the dog has not vomited during the walk, give them another dose of hydrogen peroxide after 15 minutes, but do not provide any more than that as large amounts of peroxide can also be harmful to dogs.
If the hydrogen peroxide method does not work, let them outside in an area where there’s lots of moist green grass for them to munch on. Dogs love to do this, especially when their stomach isn’t feeling well so it shouldn’t take too much bidding to get them to start munching on the grass.
If you cannot induce vomiting in your dog, the next best step is to try and dilute the chocolate that they’ve already eaten. Simply giving them a food that they really love to eat is an easy way to dilute the chocolate. It’s also thought that boiled milk that’s been cooled will also help in dilution.
Ask a professional
Whether or not you’ve been able to induce vomiting or dilute the chocolate, if your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate, and even if you only think they have, you need to call your vet and the animal poison center immediately. Even if your pet isn’t showing symptoms it doesn’t mean that they won’t in the very near future. Be ready to tell the vet or technician that you speak to how much chocolate your dog ate, what kind of chocolate they ate, and if they’ve been showing any unusual symptoms since eating the chocolate.
It is important not to panic so that you can take the necessary steps to keep them safe. Remember that the reaction your dog experiences, if any, will depend on the amount of chocolate they ate, what breed of dog they are, how large they are, and the first steps you take to try and help them. Try your best to prevent it from happening again by keeping any and all chocolate locked away from pets in a place where they cannot reach it.