My Dog Ate a Chocolate Chip Cookie! Here’s What to Do (Our Vet Answers)

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A dog’s inquisitive nature can often land them in trouble and in need of a visit to the veterinarian. Their heightened sense of smell can entice our pets to all manner of household items – and they may end up eating things they shouldn’t.

Chocolate is one of our favorite snacks. However, if ingested in significant quantities, it can lead to toxicity in dogs. As well as being found in cookies, chocolate can be a major ingredient within biscuits, cakes, and ice cream. If there are chocolate products left on coffee tables or countertops, then the chances are that your dog will sniff it out and eat it. We may only realize that our dog has eaten chocolate when we notice that the treat has gone missing or when our dog’s chocolatey breath raises suspicion. Continue reading to find out more about the toxic ingredients contained within chocolate, the effects this may have on our pooches if eaten and, what to do if your dog has ingested some.Divider 8

What should I do if my dog has eaten a chocolate chip cookie?

It is important to contact your vet as soon as you realize your pet has eaten chocolate. The sooner the treatment is started the better the outcome for your dog.

Here is a step by step guide of what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

1. As soon as you realize your dog has eaten chocolate, ensure that they do not eat any more.

Keep hold of packaging where possible, as the weight of the product and the cocoa content (usually stated on the pack) may help your vet calculate whether a toxic dose has been consumed. The ingredient list on the packaging may also alert the vet to other toxic ingredients such as raisins or macadamia nuts. Remember that chocolate cookies with added chocolate chips will have more cocoa than a plain cookie with chocolate chips – so keep an eye out for that.

2. Contact your veterinarian.

They will need to know the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate, any other ingredients in the cookie, and the amount consumed. You should also let them know if any packaging is missing. Your vet will then calculate the likelihood of toxic effects and make a recommendation. If a low dose has been consumed, then it may not be necessary to provide treatment. However, if a significant dose has been consumed then your vet may recommend a visit to the vet clinic.

3. Make sure that you follow your vet’s instructions.

If you have caught your cookie-thief early, then your veterinarian may recommend making your pet sick. However, it is important not to do this yourself at home without guidance from your veterinarian. In some situations, making your dog sick at home can limit your dog’s treatment options. In addition, the chemicals used are sometimes more toxic than the chocolate and cause problems themselves! Your vet may ask you to make your dog sick or may decide to give your dog an injection to cause them to vomit and empty the stomach of any chocolate chips. This will limit the amount of chocolate absorbed into the blood system.

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Why are chocolate-chip cookies bad for dogs?

Chocolate chip cookies contain chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs. Luckily, the amount of chocolate in a cookie is usually small, but if the chocolate is dark chocolate or your dog eats several cookies, they could be bad for dogs. In addition, chocolate-chip cookies can contain other ingredients that could make them worse for dogs. Added raisins, nuts, or cocoa all make them more toxic. It is not recommended that you feed your dog chocolate chip cookies, as they can be poisonous.

Chocolate chip cookies on wooden table with dog paw_kaca.rasic_shutterstock
Credit: kaca.rasic, Shutterstock

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Chocolate contains two ingredients that can be toxic to dogs: caffeine and theobromine. The amount of these two ingredients vary according to the type of chocolate and the percentage of cocoa solids it contains. Dark chocolate typically contains the highest amount of these toxic ingredients, milk chocolate has moderate content and white chocolate contains the least.

The type of chocolate, the amount ingested, and the size of the dog all have a part to play in the effect on your dog. For example, if a small breed dog eats a large quantity of dark chocolate then there is a higher likelihood of a negative effect compared to a large dog. Therefore, the symptoms seen in our pets may range from no signs at all, a simple upset tummy to severe life-threatening problems. Chocolate and caffeine both act as stimulants in the brain and heart causing hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, and possibly death. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the effects of chocolate toxicity may lead to death within 24 hours.

The effects of chocolate toxicity can be seen as early as one hour after ingestion. Other symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Panting and restlessness
  • Seizures

Divider 1Will one chocolate chip hurt a dog?

Unlike grape toxicity, chocolate toxicity is dose-dependent. This means it’s possible to work out how dangerous it is by taking the weight or size of a dog and how much chocolate they ate. A teaspoon of dark chocolate chips weighs around ⅛-ounce, which isn’t enough to affect even a tiny 10-pound dog. Of course, it’s important to remember that every dog can have allergies and susceptibilities that mean they’re more at risk, so it’s still a good idea to phone your vet to check.
Will my dog be OK after eating a chocolate chip cookie?

Most cases of chocolate ingestion are not fatal, and most dogs will do just fine, especially if caught early enough. If there has been a delay in providing treatment, it may be necessary to administer activated charcoal to your dog once they have stopped vomiting. Activated charcoal will bind to any residual toxins and prevent them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

In severe cases, it may be necessary to hospitalize your pet to provide a fluid drip and supportive care to treat the effects on the heart and the nervous system. However, this is rare when dogs eat chocolate chip cookies, and most dogs will be fine.

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Image credit: Bruno Cervera, Pexels

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Conclusion

Chocolate chip cookies are delicious to humans but shouldn’t be fed to dogs. Chocolate can be harmful to dogs, so it is important to contact your vet as soon as you realize that any sort of chocolate has been eaten by your dog. They can give you tailored advice and recommendations to help you to decide what to do next.

It’s likely that they’ll tell you that a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t require a vet visit, but it’s best to be sure – if a case of chocolate ingestion is caught and treated early, then the outcome is typically good. To prevent chocolate toxicity, it is important to ensure that all chocolate items are kept in a secure place, away from our cherished companions – and their inquisitive noses!


Featured Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock