Two days ago I was out in the woods at the crack of dawn, listening to cacophony of noises that only happens early in the morning in the woods. As I was enjoying the crisp, cool air that brought with it the very first signs of fall, I was reminded that life is really worth living.
I feel that way when I’m hiking or kayaking, but I also feel like that about food – especially fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies. They are so good when the chocolate is melty and the cookie is soft and the fresh baked smell is wafting off of it. Yum.
Unfortunately, my dogs like chocolate chip cookies as much as I do and will try and finagle their way into one. Of course, I’m a responsible dog owner so I NEVER give my dogs chocolate. Never ever. But if your dog ate a chocolate chip cookie here is what you need to know.
Why Chocolate is Bad for Your Dog – Theobromine Toxicity in Dogs
Chocolate contains theobromine – a substance that is toxic to dogs.
Theobromine and caffeine are readily absorbed from the GI tract and widely distributed throughout the body. They are metabolized in the liver and undergo enterohepatic recycling. Methylxanthines are excreted in the urine as both metabolites and unchanged parent compounds. The half-lives of theobromine and caffeine in dogs are 17.5 hr and 4.5 hr, respectively.Merk Manual Veterinary Medicine
If you want to know more about dangers for your dog check out 5 Surprising Christmas Dangers for Dogs.
How Much Chocolate is Bad for a Dog?
While there is no “safe” amount of chocolate for dogs – there are thresholds at which different dogs can consume chocolate and not be in danger.
In simpler terms, that means a very concerning dose of chocolate is approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight. Since an average Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar is 1.55 ounces, consuming even one chocolate bar can have serious consequences, especially for small dogs. Eating a crumb of chocolate cake or a very small piece of a chocolate bar, on the other hand, probably won’t kill your dog, especially if it is a larger breed, but chocolate should never be fed as a treat.American Kennel Club
Did your dog get into your weed or weed edibles? Check out our post Help! My Dog Ate My Weed to learn about marijuana intoxication and poisoning in dogs.
With this basic body weight rule in mind a Labrador Retriever will be able to eat more chocolate without side effects than a Chihuahua.
Because chocolate chip cookies almost always contain more cookie than chocolate, in most cases if your dog ate a SINGLE chocolate chip cookie they are unlikely to be in danger. Or if the cookie was actually a carob recipe or dog safe “fake chocolate” then you are perfectly OK.
However if your dog is a puppy or very old or if the cookie contains very dark bakers chocolate it can be more of a threat.
Here’s what puts dogs at risk for chocolate poisoning. Ingestion of more than 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning. Almost all ingestion of baker’s chocolate can result in poisoning and are considered emergencies. Very young, geriatric and animals with underlying disease must be treated more conservatively as they are more at risk for poisoning than healthy adult animals. Due to the large amount of fat in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after eating chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate (see fatty foods).”>Pet Poison Helpline says.
It’s the dose that makes the poison! Pets that ingest a few M&Ms or 1-2 bites of a chocolate chip cookie are unlikely to develop chocolate poisoning.
- For milk chocolate, any ingestion of more than 0.5 ounces per pound of body weight may put dogs at risk for chocolate poisoning.
- Ingestions of more than 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning.
- Almost all ingestions of baker’s chocolate can result in poisoning and are considered emergencies.
- Very young, geriatric and animals with underlying disease must be treated more conservatively as they are more at risk for poisoning than healthy adult animals.
- Due to the large amount of fat in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after eating chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate (see fatty foods).
What To Do If Your Dog Ate a Chocolate Chip Cookie?
Even with a small amount of chocolate it’s always better to be safe than sorry. There is no such thing as dog safe chocolate, and seeking professional help is a good idea when your dog consumes it.
Call your vet with the type and amount of chocolate your pet has consumed or check with the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.
If the dose is small, your vet may have you simply monitor your dog. If it was a larger dose (like they ate a whole box of chocolate chip cookies) you may need emergency treatment.
If your dog is showing symptoms of chocolate poisoning like these from Pet MD:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased reflex responses
- Muscle rigidity
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)
Then take your dog to an emergency vet IMMEDIATELY. Chocolate can and does kill dogs when enough of it is consumed. It’s not something to play around with.
There is, however, fake chocolate for dogs just like their is for humans. Dogs can eat carob without danger.
Summary: My Dog Ate a Chocolate Chip Cookie!
First, don’t panic. If you can, find out exactly how much chocolate your dog ate and when they ate it. Then call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline. If your dog is displaying symptoms of chocolate poisoning take them to an emergency vet immediately.
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