My dogs eaten chocolate, what do I do?

March 12, 2014
hello world!

Good for You, Not for Fluffy!

March is Pet Poison Prevention Month. While certain foods may be tasty  to you, some can threaten your dog or cat.

Here is some information on a few of the "people foods" you should avoid feeding to your pet. Use caution and prevent your pet from having access to any of these foods.

Onions and Garlic

These vegetables will cause GI upset and can lead to red blood cell damage. Although it is not common for a dog or cat to consume enough raw onions and/or garlic to cause severe damage, highly concentrated forms such as onion powder and garlic salt can put your pet at significantly higher risk. Most symptoms are not recognized for 3-5 days. Watch for any weakness or lethargy. Their urine may become orange or red in color.

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, oral activated charcoal administration, and supportive care like IV fluid therapy. Analyzing the patient’s PCV, packed cell volume, for 5-7 days is important to monitor the effects of the anemia brought on by the breaking down of the red blood cells.

Grapes and Raisins

Currently, the contaminant that makes grapes and raisins toxic is unknown. What is known, however, is that they decrease the blood flow to the kidneys, leading to renal failure. Raisins are more toxic than grapes, being that they are dried and more concentrated. Early symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and diarrhea within 24-48 hours. After that, more severe signs will appear after the acute kidney failure has already occurred. Treatment includes inducing vomiting, activated charcoal given orally, and administering IV fluids for supportive care while monitoring kidney function through blood work.


Chocolate contains the substances caffeine and theobromine which dogs are more sensitive to than people. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater risk it is to your pet. Baker’s, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate present a more significant danger to your pet than milk or white chocolate. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, muscle rigidity, seizures, and can even lead to death. Treatment includes inducing vomiting, giving oral activated charcoal, administering IV fluids, and supportive care for any other symptoms that arise.

Macadamia Nuts

Similar to raisins and grapes, the toxin in macadamia nuts which causes poisoning in some dogs is unknown. They have been known to cause weakness, vomiting, depression, hyperthermia, and tremors. These clinical signs commonly develop within 12 hours of consumption and usually last for 12-48 hours. Activated charcoal administration is recommended to reduce the absorption of the unknown toxin through the digestive tract. More severe cases require supportive care through IV fluids, pain medications, and fever-reducing medications.

Fruit Seeds and Pits

The specific complication with fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, and plums are their seeds or pits. Not only can they cause an intestinal blockage, but the pits contain cyanide which is poisonous to people and dogs alike. Indications of cyanide poisoning are vomiting, heavy breathing, rapid heart rate, skin irritation, and coma. Treatment includes oxygen therapy, IV fluid administration, and supportive care.


If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these foods, you can contact your local poison control hotline for advice. Seek care from your veterinarian promptly if any symptoms present themselves. Remember, the earlier you detect possible toxin ingestion, the greater chance of a better outcome.

For more information on any of the foods mentioned here or the possibility of another, please ask your veterinarian. Our team is here to help answer any of your questions.

Janelle Walter, Lead RVT at Hill's Veterinary Hospital

This article was subsequently published on Angie's List in October 2014. Please click to read more!