Did your dog recently get into a stash of chocolate? While chocolate may taste good to your furry friend, it can also cause serious digestive issues. In fact, it can be downright toxic, causing seizures, muscle contractions, and even death if not treated. That's because chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which doesn't mix well with a dog's digestive track. Fortunately, chocolate poisoning can be usually be treated in most dogs. That's especially true if you take action quickly. Here are three essential steps to take after discovering that your dog has eaten chocolate:
Get the chocolate away from the dog. If you catch the dog in the middle of the act, the first thing you should do is prevent the dog from ingesting any more chocolate. Your first instinct maybe to get the remaining chocolate off the floor or wherever else the dog has found the tasty treats. However, before you do that, you may want to pull the dog away and wipe any chocolate off their teeth and out of their mouth. Take a towel and brush and try to get in the dog's mouth to get any remaining chocolate out. That will prevent the dog from licking his or her teeth and ingesting more chocolate while you're cleaning up the mess on the floor.
Then, once you've cleaned the dog's mouth, turn your attention to the mess on the floor on the counter. Don't just throw all the chocolate in the trash. Set it on a counter out of the dog's reach. You'll need to examine it in step two.
Determine what kind and how much chocolate the dog ate. Take a look at the remaining chocolate to determine how much your dog ingested. Obviously, the less that was eaten, the better the odds of your dog being healthy. However, quantity is also relative to the dog's size. A few bites of chocolate may not be dangerous for a large breed dog, but could be very dangerous for a small teacup breed dog.
Also, the type of chocolate is important as different types have different levels of theobromine. White chocolate has minimal levels and is unlikely to be dangerous. Milk chocolate may only be dangerous in very large quantities. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate, though, can be extremely dangerous and even toxic.
Watch for symptoms. Watch your dog closely after he or she ingests the chocolate. All dogs may react differently, so you basically want to look for any behavior out of the ordinary. Restless behavior or agitation are common signs of digestive discomfort. Rapid breathing and muscle contractions can also be signs of chocolate toxicity. And clearly, constant vomiting is a sign that something is very wrong.
If you see any of these signs in your dog, you may want to call an emergency veterinary clinic for further instructions. They can tell you whether you should bring the dog in for exam or whether you can take additional action at home.