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Chocolate and Dogs Can Be a Deadly Combination

It’s a rite of passage for many kids. I remember sneaking into a cupboard looking for a snack when I saw a box of baker’s chocolate. Being a kid, I focused on the word chocolate and not so much on the baking part. When I bit into what I expected to be a bit of paradise, I had a rude awakening. Baker’s chocolate is like zombie chocolate. You can see the form and color of what might have been, but it will gut your soul if given the chance. Run.

Unfortunately, dogs can’t read. As the owner of two doggies and a zillion chocolate-loving kids, we have often told them to keep chocolate and dogs apart. We’ve told them chocolate is poison to dogs. We’ve never had a problem with anyone giving chocolate to dogs. How many kids are interested in sharing their chocolate, willingly? If Twilight Sparkle clomped into the kitchen with Mario and Luigi on her back, asking for chocolate, my kids would have to think about it first.

But two nights ago, we nearly lost our younger dog, Georgebailey, to chocolate poisoning. I’m sharing this story to raise awareness about how serious and deadly chocolate is to dogs.


Sometime during the busy late afternoon/early evening rush of homework and getting dinner ready, one of our little boys snuck into a cupboard (which, ironically, has a child-safety latch). He found two full, unopened 10oz. bags of bittersweet chocolate chips. I bought them to make fudge for Christmas. He took the bag and opened it in another room. Nobody saw, but it’s assumed he tried some, found them to be not the chocolate he was expecting, and ditched the bag. My husband later found it, empty.

As we were sitting down to eat, we noted Georgebailey didn’t eat any of his dog food. This was very unusual. My husband glanced into the living room and saw a very dark, gelatinous puddle of vomit on the carpet. Georgebailey was hiding under a table. It was clearly his. We investigated and realized it looked like chocolate. But all the chocolate was accounted for, we thought. Our first suspicion was a tub of Christmas goodies a friend gave us, but that container was sealed and on top of the refrigerator. I looked in the cupboard and realized one of the bags of bittersweet chips was missing. We asked the kids and, to his endless credit, the chip-sneaker said he opened it. He was very sorry. We explained it was very dangerous for Georgebailey. Bittersweet and baking chocolate is horrible for dogs to eat because they aren’t diluted with much milk or sugar.

The chemical in chocolate that sickens dogs is called theobromine. Caffeine is also toxic to dogs. This combination can lead to heart rate issues, seizures, and death. As little as 2 oz. can kill a small dog. We believe Georgebailey ate close to 10 oz. because there were no chips left in the bag and our little son likely only sampled a few morsels, if that.

Immediately, we called the vet. When we were told we had to make payment 100% upfront, we told them we simply couldn’t. Could they wait for a couple of days? They said nope, so my husband hung up in disgust and we called an urgent care clinic we used for Junie years ago. Could they see him? They said to bring him in right away.

My husband had a meeting he couldn’t miss, so I took Georgebailey to the vet, along with Ryley and my father-in-law (who lives just around the corner). The vet’s office was about a ten minute drive away. Georgebailey seemed pretty hyper, but it was hard to tell if the chocolate was kicking in or he was just excited about being in the van, going somewhere. When we arrived, there was no wait. They took us back into an exam room. His heart was beating abnormally fast. I brought along the unopened bag of chips so they could see what they were dealing with. “No bueno” said the tech. 60% cacao, bittersweet. He couldn’t have picked worse chocolate to devour. Their toxicity calculator put him in the red zone for his weight of 40 pounds and the amount he ate.

Georgebailey, Ryley, and the Urgent Care Team

They presented their treatment plan, which would start right away. They were going to induce vomiting until they were sure his stomach was emptied of chocolate. They’d give him charcoal to bind to remaining chocolate, an IV with fluids because of dehydration chocolate causes and for meds, bloodwork, and close observation in their ICU. We said tearful goodbyes and made them promise to call at any hour to report changes. Our hearts were heavy as we left without him. We had to return before 8am to transfer him to our regular vet or to take him home. Or, to say goodbye. This was too shocking to even consider.

Before we went to bed, we called to check up on him. The tech gave us encouraging news. When they induced vomiting, he brought up a massive amount of chocolate and water. They noticed after his stomach was rid of all the chocolate, he perked up. They gave him charcoal, too. His heart rate went down to a more normal rhythm and his body temperature dropped, too. Blood work revealed his main problem at that point was dehydration, so they gave him fluids through the night and watched him closely. At 6am, I called and was told he was doing okay. We could pick him up and take him home! The only thing we had to do for him was give him a bland diet for a few days and limit his exercise.

We had a very happy reunion! I took Ryley and Archie along. Georgebailey was ecstatic, as were we and the vet staff. They had been just as worried for him. The vet said getting him in so quickly is most likely what saved him. He didn’t have a chance to digest much, allowing it to flood his system. He definitely had effects because of the vomiting and rapid heart rate, but not the worst of the worst.

Also, we prayed and prayed for our Georgebailey, asking friends and family to join us. They did. Everyone who has ever loved an animal knows how much they have your heart.

Two days later, Georgebailey is back to being a young, energetic dog. He’s two. He thinks he’s overlord of the squirrels in the yard, he is a goofus, and he’s had quite an experience. I hope he will somehow remember that the brown stuff that smells like that is no good, stay away, woof woof bark bark.

But we need to do our part. We all learned a huge lesson. I’m sharing all this because reminders are good. This time of year is busy and stressful. Baked goodies are at peak production. The vet said the previous Sunday, they had four dogs in the urgent care because of chocolate. Don’t let your doggie become one of them.

(Here’s a good PDF with chocolate + dogs facts and a list of other foods that are poisonous to dogs)

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