Ho, Ho - No! What To Do If Your Dog Gets Into The Holiday Chocolate This Holiday Season

5 December 2018
 Categories: , Blog


During the holidays, all kinds of goodies are hanging around homes, and maybe even hanging on the trees. From stocking-stuffers to candy dishes, sweet treats are everywhere. While most of these sugary sensations are meant for children, what happens if your dog is the one to eat them? What do you do if he eats a chocolate Santa, reindeer or elf? With all those holiday cookies, fudge and more, a precarious pup is bound to be tempted, and you need to know exactly what to do.

Identify What Your Dog Ate

Although you'd prefer your dog not eat treats made for people at all, some are worse than others. Chocolate can be dangerous because it has caffeine and theobromine, an alkaline that's actually beneficial to humans, but potentially toxic to dogs. The higher the concentrations of caffeine and theobromine, the worse it is for your dog. Theobromine makes dramatic changes in the heartbeat and nervous system of the animal, putting his entire system in danger. 

While white chocolate is usually not threatening, any other type of chocolate could be harmful:

  • Cocoa powder is the absolute worst, so check the ingredients on anything your dog ate, if you can.
  • Chocolates used by chefs, such as baker's and semi-sweet, are right behind cocoa in terms of toxicity.
  • Dark and traditional milk chocolates aren't usually as bad as other types, but in larger amounts could be worrisome.

If you catch your dog before he eats more than a mouthful, he might be okay without veterinarian intervention; however, if he's consumed more or if you're uncertain as to the amount and/or type, watch him very closely.

Check Your Pup's Symptoms

It's not worth taking a chance on your dog becoming seriously ill, even if you're in the middle of holiday festivities. Reactions may differ between dogs, too, making it essential that you take off your Santa hat at once, replacing it with your mom or dad dog cap instead. Watch for any unusual behavior in your dog, especially the following possible reactions to chocolate:

  • Peeing a lot.
  • Hyperactivity or nervousness and agitation.
  • Throwing up.
  • Loose and frequent stools.
  • Shaking or shivering, as if he's cold.
  • Worse responses, such as a seizure or not being able to stand up.

As soon as you see anything odd from your dog, you need to act. If you're certain he's eaten more than a morsel of a dangerous type of chocolate, don't even wait for symptoms to begin.

Call An Emergency Vet

Since Murphy's Law applies during the holidays, too, your dog will probably eat the chocolate Santa or snowman on a Sunday or in the evening, so contact whatever vet is open. An emergency veterinarian will be able to handle the crisis, so get ready to haul your pooch in a vehicle, preferably contained in a pet carrier. If he's too big for that, throw a towel in the back seat with him and ask someone to ride along and keep an eye on him. He may need to be calmed or even held, so the swaying of the vehicle doesn't toss him around. 

Once at the clinic, the doctor may induce vomiting in your canine candy-swiper, administer an IV or keep him overnight. The important thing is to get him into the wise and caring hands of a vet who's prepared for just about anything, even during the holidays.

Be Prepared For Next Season

Since your dog won't make the connection between becoming sick and the sweet yummy chocolate, make sure you take action to keep the two separated. Store anything he shouldn't have high up or keep it out of the house completely. Consider crate training him, too, so that you can isolate him from the traditional holiday threats. Warn visitors not to feed him, too. 

Amid all the joy and excitement of the holidays, your dog might get into anything, especially if he's the curious and clever type. Restrict him from areas where he could find trouble and always know if  anything he gets his teeth into is naughty or nice for dogs. You should keep the number of your local 24 hour animal hospital handy, just in case, and be sure and fill your dog's stocking with healthy, teeth-cleaning treats of his own he can enjoy.