What should you do if your dog has eaten chocolate? First, don’t panic! Typically, symptoms of chocolate poisoning don’t develop for dogs for six to 24 hours after they ingest it (although in extreme cases it may be as little as four). You have time to call your vet and make a plan to get your dog to them. You should do this right away.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

What if you’re not sure whether your dog got into that last bit of chocolate or if something else happened to it? You should keep an eye on your dog and watch out for these symptoms of chocolate poisoning:

  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness, pacing
  • Unusually active and excited
  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Even if the symptoms seem mild at first, you should call your vet if you suspect your dog may have chocolate poisoning. The nature of this poisoning is that it will get worse with time, sometimes very quickly. This is especially true if your dog developed symptoms soon after the time you suspect they ate the chocolate.

Quick intervention is important to save your dog, as the vet’s general treatments are only to safely help the dog vomit and then try to absorb the chemicals from their stomach with charcoal. If your dog has already absorbed a lethal dose, it will be too late.

Is Chocolate Always Deadly to Dogs?

No, small amounts of chocolate may not be deadly to your dog. It all depends on how much they ate. Chocolate has a chemical, theobromine, which dogs have difficulty metabolizing. If they eat too much, it can build up in their system and start to cause symptoms. Depending on the amount of chocolate, the type of chocolate and the size of your dog, it can be deadly. Larger dogs are less likely to die from chocolate poisoning, but it is still possible, especially from dark chocolate, which contains more theobromine.

What If You Can’t Get to a Vet?

If you can’t get to your vet’s office and can’t get ahold of any vet for advice, you can still intervene to try to save your dog. Inducing vomiting is likely the best course of action, again depending on how much chocolate your dog ate.

You can induce vomiting by feeding your dog hydrogen peroxide. This is not pleasant for your dog and should be done very carefully to avoid hurting him or her. Of course, the sooner you do this after he or she has eaten chocolate, the better.

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Take between a teaspoon and tablespoon, depending on your dog’s size, and pour it down his or her throat. Wait five minutes. If your dog does not vomit, then you can try again, and then once more. Don’t attempt to do this more than three times, it won’t work and is bad for the dog.

If your dog does vomit, you can followup the treatment with food-grade charcoal to try to absorb the chocolate that has already left his or her stomach. When you can, get your dog checked up by a vet to ensure your home remedies didn’t harm your pup.