Chocolate Easter candy spread out on a table including a milk chocolate bunny and small colorful candy pieces

It is the day after Easter. The bunny costumes have been put away, the confetti eggs have all been busted and the left-over ham and macaroni and cheese are tucked away in containers in the fridge. So, what still lingers that we should all be mindful of? Chocolate poisoning in dogs!

As most of us know, chocolate is toxic to pets. Some are fortunate enough to survive its ingestion while others are hypersensitive to the fatal ingredients and do not have the same luck. So, what makes chocolate poisoning in dogs a thing, how much does a pet have to eat to be negatively affected and what steps should we take should we find ourselves in this unfortunate situation?

What are the dangerous ingredients causing chocolate poisoning in dogs and cats?

Theobromine and Caffeine. Theobromine is an alkaloid that is metabolized much slower in pets than humans. It is derived from cocoa plants and also contains the stimulant caffeine. These are the active ingredients known to cause chocolate poisoning in dogs.

How much does a pet have to eat to become toxic?

Different types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine. has produced a Chocolate Toxicity Meter for Dogs. Pet owners are prompted to enter their dog’s weight in pounds, the type of chocolate ingested, and the amount consumed in ounces. The information provided does not intend to constitute medical advice, diagnose or treat a pet. Clinical advice and treatment by your veterinarian are recommended.

What are the signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs?

According to VCA Hospitals and, the following is a combined list of clinical signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive Urination
  • Muscle Rigidity
  • Racing Heart Rate
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Increased Reflex Responses

Severe cases can cause muscle tremors, seizures and heart failure. These clinical signs can take hours or days to develop. The side effects of chocolate can last for days due to the slower metabolizing of theobromine.

How is a diagnosis confirmed?

Your veterinarian will perform a complete exam including blood work, a urinalysis, blood profile, and electrolyte panel to determine if your pet has overdosed on caffeine and theobromine. Heart activity can be monitored with an ECG to track any abnormalities or arrhythmias.

Is there a treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs?

Pets who have ingested toxic amounts of chocolate will possibly have their stomach pumped and could receive I.V. fluids to keep them hydrated. Focus will be given to control any seizure activity and keep the pet cool, calm and in a quiet area.

With a Pin Paws Plus  membership, one of the important benefits is you will have access to whiskerDocs, pet telehealth. This service provides pet owners access to a vet 24/7 via text, chat or call to determine if a pet needs simple home observation or emergency care. Should your pet ingest chocolate and you are worried about their well-being, contact whiskerDocs or seek emergency medical veterinarian care.

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