When your dog eats chocolate, several types of complications are possible. Chocolate is made from the cacao bean, and contains high levels of methylxanthine alkaloids. These compounds can cause acute (think fast-acting) stomach, nervous system, and cardiac problems. Affected animals show signs in 2-4 hours and can quickly develop vomiting and diarrhea, and seem very agitated or energized. Seizures can result. Theobromine is one of the compounds responsible and has effects similar to the caffeine many of us crave first thing in the morning.
In general, dark chocolate creates more of a problem than milk chocolate. Read the
percentage of cacao content on various packages in the grocer’s baking aisle to understand why—the darker the chocolate, the higher the content of the bean. That said, the increased fat content of milk chocolate can cause a particularly nasty stomach or pancreatic upset sometimes. And your dog knows there are goodies under the tree or in that heart-shaped box at Valentine’s Day, even if they’re wrapped. Always keep chocolates out of paw’s reach.
Take accidental chocolate ingestion seriously. Our dogs are much smaller than us but ingest large amounts quickly. Depending on the amount ingested and the size of your dog, chocolate can even cause death.