Quick- Think about ONE fact that you know about dogs.
Chances are, the first thing that came to your mind was, “Chocolate is bad for dogs”.
That seems to be one of the very first things that anyone learns about our lovable canine friends- that they can’t eat even a little of one of our favorite treats! That’s a’no to the Thin Mints.
So, what would happen if your dog ate hot chocolate powder? Is it the same thing?
More or less, yes. You need to be just as concerned if your dog has recently eaten hot chocolate mix. Just how toxic it is will depend on the concentration and style of the cocoa powder.
You will need to establish just how much powder was eaten, and call your vet immediately for further instruction.
The amount of powder that can cause severe illness or kill your dog depends on their weight and the cocoa concentration in the powder.
Lower priced, poor quality, or white varieties of chocolate are typically less deadly for your dog, but you should always keep a close eye and err on the side of caution.
These specific chocolate types and their amounts are deadly for dogs:
● White chocolate contains less cocoa powder than other chocolates. Anything over 200 ounces per pound of body weight can prove to be extremely harmful.
● Milk chocolate is more common in households than white chocolate and much more dangerous. Only one ounce per pound can be deadly.
● Baker chocolate is just as dangerous as milk chocolate, if not more so. Just one ounce per pound can be harmful. Almost every instance of baking chocolate ingestion should be considered an emergency.
● Sweet cacao powder, cocoa mix or dark chocolate is the most dangerous of all chocolates. Since it has such a high concentration, 0.3 ounces per pound is extremely dangerous for your dog.
Every dog is different, so the guidelines listed above can shift depending on your dog’s existing health conditions and weight.
The reason that chocolates with high concentrations of cocoa, especially cocoa powder, are deadly is due to theobromine presence.
The more pure cocoa means the more theobromine, and our canine friends cannot metabolize the chemical as well as humans can.
A dog’s inability to metabolize theobromine puts immense pressure on their nervous system and kidneys. As a result, you might observe the following signs of chocolate poisoning, listed by VCA Hospitals:
● Increased urination
● Elevated heart rate
● Muscle tremors
It can take up to 6-12 hours for symptoms of chocolate poisoning to appear. In more severe cases, older dogs or those vulnerable to heart defects can go into cardiac arrest and die soon after.
Extreme cases like these are why you should never risk feeding chocolate to your dog, no matter the amount.
Some dog owners may use it as a small treat after training and walks or share it with them during an afternoon snack, both of which are extremely dangerous.
Even if you’ve had close calls in the past after your dog ate some hot chocolate mix or a stray candy bar, it’s best not to test fate.
If you suspect your dog consumed hot chocolate powder or caught them in the act, you need to determine how much they consumed.
Your options may be limited, depending on the amount of time that has passed since your dog ate the powder.
Using a chocolate toxicity calculator will help you figure out the toxicity rating and whether you should contact your vet or not.
If you’re not sure of the amount that your dog ate, Vets Now’s calculator helps you estimate based on the size, type, and packaging of the chocolate.
If you’re still unsure, contact your vet or call the Pet Poison Hotline. They’ll help you determine your next steps to ensure the safety of your dog.
If you’re asked to bring them in for an appointment, make sure you convey your dog’s weight, when the hot chocolate powder was consumed, the type, and amount.
If your dog has not eaten a toxic amount of powder, you may be asked to closely monitor your dog’s symptoms over the next few hours or induce vomiting.
Your dog will usually vomit on their own once the theobromine enters their system, but if not, you may have to step in.
For every 20 pounds, give your dog one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (3%). You can use a turkey baster or medicine dropper for the picky eaters and medicine haters to administer the peroxide.
If you’re still facing difficulties, you can offer them a bowl of peanut butter with peroxide around the rim, as they habitually lick their bowls clean.
Some websites recommend using Ipecac syrup to induce vomiting, but this is extremely dangerous and not recommended by any veterinary professional.
You should only induce vomiting in your dog if you’re doing so under a veterinary professional’s direct instruction.
In some instances, your vet will prescribe an activated charcoal solution to help your dog’s digestive system absorb any remaining theobromine. Follow the instructions closely, and continue to monitor for worsening symptoms.
The best way to keep your dog from eating chocolate powder, or any form of chocolate, is to take preventative measures.
Keep any chocolate products (powder, hot chocolate mix, candy bars, etc.) in a sealed container, and high up or locked somewhere your dog cannot access it.
Dogs have a powerful sense of smell and can usually locate a sweet treat even if it’s well hidden.
Take extra care around candy-centric holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween, and make sure any trick-or-treat bags or baskets are stowed in an inaccessible area.
While you should still take precautions in storing your chocolate safely, you can also work on the command “Leave it.”
This is used to stop dogs from eating or grabbing something within their reach that they’re either showing interest in or would like to eat. For more easy-to-implement instructions on how to train your dog with this command and more, click here.
If you’ve exhausted the other options and are still dealing with chocolate mischief, crate train your dog.
Finding a crate to put them in while you’re out of the house and unable to supervise them is the easiest option to make sure they don’t get into any food they’re not supposed to.
The crate needs to be sturdy and large enough that they can stand up and turn around inside it. You can make it more comfortable by providing them with a bed, various toys, and occasional treats.
Dogs and puppies need to be actively trained for freedom inside the home. To learn everything you need to know about getting your dog ready for freedom around your house, read our post here!
Hot chocolate powder is toxic to dogs; there’s no question about that. Just how toxic depends heavily on whether it is a white, milk, or dark chocolate mix, as well as your dog’s particular health and body circumstances.
Once your dog has eaten the powder, it will be in danger of theobromine poisoning as its body struggles to metabolize the chemical.
Firstly, you will need to figure out just how much powder your pup ate, and whether or not it is a dangerous dose. If your dog’s life is in danger, you may need to take it to the emergency vet immediately.
Otherwise, your vet may prescribe activated charcoal to absorb any residual toxins, or may want you to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide to purge the chocolate from its system. In every case, it’s extremely important to prevent your dog from getting near hot chocolate mix again in the future.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.