Sad dog laying on deck

What to do if your dog eats chocolate

Team Walmart Pets

July 9, 2021


min read

“My 25-pound dog ate about 3 ounces of dark chocolate truffles. Should I take him to the ER?”

Unfortunately, this is a statement that is often muttered by many concerned pet parents. Of course, the answer to this question is never a simple “yes” or “no”. Chocolate is toxic to most dogs, but here we’re going to break down what it means when your dog eats chocolate. Two things to keep in mind, the type of dog you have and the type of chocolate they eat.

Is chocolate toxic to dogs?

In short, chocolate can be fatal if ingested by dogs. But the different types of chocolate mean different things for your dog. Baker’s chocolate is the most toxic. The second most toxic is dark chocolate, while milk chocolate is only slightly less toxic.

The component of chocolate that is responsible for chocolate toxicity in dogs is called theobromine. Theobromine can cause excitation, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and has the chance to be fatal. This is not a topic to take lightly.

How types of chocolate affect dogs

The most important things to consider are what kind of chocolate your dog ate, how much your dog ate, how much your dog weighs and how long ago was the chocolate consumed.

For instance, one ounce of milk chocolate isn’t as toxic as one ounce of Baker’s chocolate. Similarly, a 5-lb. Chihuahua that eats one ounce of Baker’s chocolate is at a greater risk of toxicity than an 80-lb. Labrador that eats the same amount.

So, what do you do if your dog eats chocolate? First of all, take a deep breath. Next, collect as much of the following information as you can.

Four questions to ask if your dog eats chocolate

1. What type of chocolate did your dog eat: Milk chocolate, dark chocolate or Baker’s chocolate?

2. Approximately how much chocolate do you think your dog consumed? It is better to overestimate a little than to underestimate.

3. How long it has been since your dog ate the chocolate: a few minutes, an hour? If you’re unsure, try to give a range of dates.

4. Are you noticing any abnormal behavior? For example, is there vomit and/or diarrhea all over the house? Does your dog seem anxious or hyperactive? What is your dog’s heart rate?

Your vet can help guide you on the best course of action depending on your answers to the questions above. In general, your vet will treat for chocolate toxicity/ingestion with any combination of the following methods.

Is chocolate bad for cats?

Yes, different types of chocolate can have the same effects in cats as it does in dogs. Although it might be less common for cats to get into chocolate, it can still happen. All the same questions and treatment mentioned above can apply to cats too—including seeking immediate veterinary care.

Treatment for chocolate toxicity in dogs

If caught and treated early, chocolate toxicity is generally treatable and dogs will recover. 

One thing you can do to make sure you’re protected if your dog does ever eat chocolate is by enrolling in Walmart Pet Insurance. It can help cover the cost of vet bills associated with your dog eating chocolate, and help cover their recovery as well.

Pet Health

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash