Help! My Dog Ate Thin Mints…Will It Die?

Homemade thin mints
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You know that chocolate is pure poison for your dog.

You’ve heard that peppermint oil isn’t so great for canines, either.

Putting two + two together after walking in on your dog happily finishing the last Thin Mint out of the packet on the countertop, you think to yourself with a rapidly-rising sense of dread,

“Well, drat. My dog’s going to die, isn’t he?”

Hold your hounds, buster.

Your pup has hope, yet!

Appearances can be deceiving. Despite being covered in dark, rich-looking chocolate, the actual cocoa content in a box of Thin Mints is tiny and most likely nowhere near pure or potent enough to be toxic to dogs.

The same goes for the peppermint oil. It’s listed as the last ingredient on the ingredients list, so it can safely be the last thing on your mind too. In fact, the overall calories, sugar and fat content are more worrisome than any specific component used to make the cookie.

Unless your dog ate multiple packets of the treat all in one sitting, the worst it’s likely to experience is an upset stomach, diarrhea, and a bit of extra oomph for the rest of the day.

If you’re still a bit concerned, you can always use hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal as effective first aid options.

Having said that, the girl scout cookies are in no way, shape or form a healthy food for dogs- so keep them high up on the shelf next time where their mischievous paws can’t reach!

Can Thin Mints Kill A Dog?

Can Thin Mints kill a dog? Yes, of course they can.

However, a dog would have to eat mountains and mountains of the stuff before any chemical poisoning would conceivably occur.

It would actually be far more probable that a dog dies of obesity, diabetes or pancreatitis caused by the overwhelming fat and sugar content consumed, rather than being struck down by chocolate.

The cookies are made mostly of sugar and wheat, with very little actual cocoa powder added.

In fact, the ingredients list shows that less than 2% of the recipe is actual cocoa! While humans may feel cheated by the lack of quality, this is undoubtedly welcome news for dogs and dog owners alike.

Nevertheless, the main reason that most owners will be worried is due to the inclusion of chocolate.

How Much Chocolate Is Poisonous To Dogs?

Chocolate is toxic to dogs due to the natural theobromine and caffeine compounds that are contained within. These chemicals are toxic because canines don’t possess the ability to metabolize them properly.

Different types of chocolates have different levels of theobromine and caffeine; generally the more dark and pure the chocolate is, the more poisonous it will be for dogs.

For instance, white chocolate will be mildly poisonous to dogs when 2.75 ounces per pound of body weight is eaten. Meanwhile, mild symptoms of toxicity can occur when just 0.1 ounces per pound of body weight of baking chocolate is eaten.

The chocolate used in Thin Mint cookies would most likely be classified as milk or semi-sweet. If that’s the case, somewhere between 0.33-0.7 ounces per pound of body weight equivalent of chocolate would have to be eaten for the chocolate to have any adverse effect at all.

Using the conservative estimate 0.33oz/lb. as an example, a 20 pound dog would have to eat 6.6 grams of pure semi-sweet/dark chocolate for it to be mildly toxic to the pup.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Muscle spasms
  • Excessive, heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

The above symptoms can progress to seizures, cardiac dysfunction, and in very serious cases can lead to death. If chocolate poisoning is suspected at any time, it is important to take the dog immediately to the vet for symptomatic treatment.

Thankfully, the prognosis for recovery from chocolate poisoning is usually very good, and the dog will be able to regain its health within 24 to 48 hours.

How Much Theobromine Is There In Thin Mints?

What would happen if your dog ate Thin Mints
carol / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)

It’s time to do some simple calculations.

We’ve already established that Thin Mint cookies use milk or semi-sweet chocolate for their chocolate coating. There is 44mg of theobromine per ounce of milk chocolate, 150mg of theobromine per ounce of semi-sweet chocolate, and 26mg of theobromine in each gram of pure cocoa powder.

Theobromine is estimated to be toxic to dogs in doses as small as 9mg per pound of body weight.

Each serving of Thin Mints is 4 cookies worth, at a weight of 31 grams. Each cookie therefore works out to be around 7.75 grams.

Only 2% of Thin Mints is composed of pure cocoa, which works out to be around 0.15 grams of each cookie. In that 0.15 grams (150 milligrams), there are 3.9mgs of theobromine present.

The average 30-pound dog would have to ingest 270mgs of theobromine for it to have a toxic effect. In order to reach that level of theobromine absorption, the dog would have to eat 69 cookies(!)  That’s more than 2 whole packets of cookies!

A small 10-pound dog would still have to eat a whopping 23 cookies in order to experience mild toxic symptoms from the chocolate contained. A 5-pound would be full to the brim after eating 8 cookies, let alone the 12 necessary for a toxic dose.

As asserted before and demonstrated now, it’s much, much more likely for a dog to be negatively affected by the sugar and fat content inside the Girl Scout cookies than by the chocolate. There’s just too little theobromine inside to cause any real damage.

How Does Too Much Sugar And Fat Put A Dog’s Life At Risk?

Butter on top of pile of flour

There is much more sugar and fat (read: calories) in Thin Mint cookies then there is supposedly deadly chocolate.

One serving (4 pieces) of the cookies contains 7 grams of fat, 10 grams of sugar and a sizable 160 calories. That’s a decently-sized snack for a human being- let alone a small to medium breed dog.

Sugar

Sugar is one ingredient that dogs don’t need at all in their everyday diet. It can have a very negative impact on a dog’s health, even in small amounts.

In the short term, sugar has the ability to disrupt the microbiome balance in a dog’s stomach, resulting in symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. While this isn’t life-threatening, it certainly is an uncomfortable experience.

Sugar will also cause cavities in dogs, just like it does in humans. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid, which then eats away at the coating and enamel of a dog’s teeth.

The most serious consequence of sugar overconsumption is the inevitable weight gain that results. Eventually, this will lead to problems like metabolic changes, joint problems, heart obesity, diabetes, and heart disease- issues that can dramatically shorten a dog’s life.

Fat

While some fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 (found in fish heads!)are beneficial for a dog’s health, eating too much bad fat will lead to the same issues caused by eating too much sugar.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average 33-pound dog should be eating a total of 14 grams of fat per day. This will help to keep its skin and coat healthy, and is good for the eyes and brain as well.

However, just like with sugar, when a dog eats too much fat it will be in danger of weight gain. The more significant the weight gain, the bigger the problems that will begin to emerge.

Just 2 servings (8 cookies) of Thin Mints can take a dog over its daily fat requirements, depending of course on its size.

When a dog eats too much fat too quickly, it can be at risk of something called acute pancreatitis. This is where the pancreatitis becomes irritated and inflamed by the fat that it suddenly has to deal with, and decides in its confusion to digest itself instead.

Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs include stomach pain, lethargy, vomiting, and fever.

Anti-inflammatory medication, painkillers and IV fluids will be required to treat serious instances of pancreatitis. Though dogs will be able to recover in most instances, it can become life-threatening.

What Will Happen If My Dog Eats Thin Mints?

Two pieces of Thin Mints

So far, it’s been clearly established that the chocolate content in these beloved Girl Scout cookies won’t do much harm to a dog that eats them.

So, will anything happen at all if a dog eats Thin Mints?

As mentioned in the previous section, Thin Mint cookies contain a lot of sugar and fat, as most snack foods tend to do. When combined with the chocolate component, this may cause dogs to temporarily suffer from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

These are normal bodily reactions that are to be expected whenever dogs eat rich human foods that their bodies aren’t built for. These symptoms should be relatively minor, and will usually pass on their own within a day or two.

As long as your dog did not eat a ridiculous amount of scout cookies all in one sitting, it should be perfectly safe from short-term dangers such as chocolate poisoning or pancreatitis.

Any gastrointestinal distress can be treated normally, while making sure always that your dog drinks enough water. Of course, if any signs such as stomach pain, lethargy, fever, or incoordination are shown, take it in to see a vet immediately.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Thin Mints?

Pile of 4 Thin Mints

There are a few different things that you can do to keep your dog safe, comfortable and healthy after it has eaten a large quantity of Thin Mint cookies.

Immediately Following Ingestion

It may seem obvious, but it bears reminding: Remove any of the remaining box of Thin Mints, pieces, and crumbs from your dog’s reach- immediately, if you haven’t already!

If you can see that your dog ate an excessive amount of cookies and less than two hours have passed, you can think about whether or not you want to induce vomiting. Any inducing of vomit should only be performed following careful consultation with a vet.

If you do try to induce vomiting, you will likely be advised to use a solution called hydrogen peroxide. The proper dosage of 3% hydrogen peroxide is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight.

This can be given through the use of a syringe, however in the absence of one in your home, you can easily use a turkey baster instead.

It’s much easier inserting the apparatus through the side of your dog’s mouth rather than from the top- this way, the liquid will roll effortlessly down your dog’s throat.

After it has swallowed the hydrogen peroxide, allow your dog to walk around so that the solution is worked into a fizz inside its stomach. Once 10 to 15 minutes have passed, it should begin to throw up the Thin Mints it had previously eaten.

Clean up the vomit as soon as your dog throws it up. If you have been a dog owner for any period of time, you will be well aware that dogs are not above re-eating their own vomit!

If it does not vomit within that time period, you can give it another dose of hydrogen peroxide. Up to 3 doses can be given if initial attempts are unsuccessful.

If your dog only ate a few pieces of Thin Mints, then it would not be advisable to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide.

Instead, you can simply observe first if any symptoms are shown, and then wait them out. If your dog begins to vomit and experience diarrhea or looks particularly uncomfortable, you can give it Pepcid AC (famotidine) at a dosage of 10mg every 12 hours.

Finally, you can administer activated charcoal to limit the amount of chocolate toxins that are absorbed.

Activated charcoal can be extremely effective as a first-aid option due to its massive capability to bind toxic chemicals to its pores. Once bound, the toxins pass safely through the intestines and are eliminated in the feces.

For a Complete Guide on the Amazing Benefits of Activated Charcoal, have a read of our resource here!

Over The Next Few Days…

  • Give your dog’s stomach a break! Withhold food for the next 8 to 24 hours, though allow it to drink water as long as it isn’t vomiting.
  • Follow up the fast by feeding a bland diet of boiled lean meat and rice over the next few days. Start by feeding in small, frequent amounts (4-6 times a day), and return to normal slowly as symptoms lessen.
  • If your dog exhibits any behavioral changes, shows a lack of appetite, becomes unbalanced or has muscle spasms and seizures- take it to see your vet immediately.

In Summary

Unless your dog ate a huge amount of Thin Mint cookies, it likely won’t experience any adverse effects from the chocolate contained inside the cookies. The chocolate is neither pure nor plentiful enough to be harmful to an average-sized canine.

That’s not saying that the Girl Scout cookies are an acceptable snack for your dog, however. Thin Mints and dogs aren’t generally a good mix. The high sugar and fat levels make the treats dangerous both in the long term- and the short.

Excessive prolonged consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while a sudden shock exposure of chocolate scout cookies to a dog’s digestive system can cause pancreatitis- a serious, life-threatening condition.

In the unlikely case that your dog does show symptoms of chocolate poisoning or pancreatitis such as impaired cognition, fever, restlessness, muscle spasms or pronounced stomach pain, it would be a good idea to take it to the vet as quickly as possible.

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