What To Do If Your Shih Tzu Ate Chocolate


You might think that chocolate is one of the greatest things on the planet, but when it comes to your Shih Tzu, chocolate is a big no-no.

Chocolate contains both caffeine and a chemical known as theobromine, which is very toxic for dogs.

While humans can metabolize this chemical with no problem, dogs and other animals cannot process it very well.

Theobromine can build up to toxic levels in a dogs system, with the potential to cause major illness. And, if your pup eats too much chocolate, it can be fatal. 

Shih Tzu dog looking at a chocolate cupcake on a tableWhat to do if your dog ate chocolate

What you should do if your Shih Tzu eats chocolate is keep a close eye on her and call your vet or pet poison hotline.  You will be asked about the type and amount of chocolate, any symptoms your dog shows, and may even be instructed to induce vomiting. If your pup ingested a lot of chocolate, bring her to a vet immediately.

While the odds are good that a tiny amount of chocolate won’t harm your dog, you have to be cautious.

Toxic substances affect different animals in unique ways and in varying degrees of severity, so make sure to keep chocolate far away from your canine companion.

What Happens if your Dog Eats Chocolate?

If your Shih Tzu eats chocolate, there are a few possible outcomes.

She could be perfectly fine (likely the case if she only had a very tiny lick or nibble), or she could throw up on her own to expel the toxin.

She might get a mild case of diarrhea, or she could start to show signs of chocolate poisoning.

Chocolate is one of the most common types of poisoning in dogs; not surprising since most households probably have several forms of chocolate in them.

Whether your dog eats chocolate chips, a brownie, a piece of baker’s chocolate, or licks chocolate frosting off of your fingers -- it’s all chocolate.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Shaking
  • Extreme Panting
  • Pacing

How long does it take for chocolate to affect a dog?

These warning signs can take 6 to 12 hours to show up.  If you know or even suspect your dog ate some chocolate, don’t wait for her to show symptoms. Call your vet right away to get proper guidance.

Chocolate contains stimulants that can stay in the body for a long time. In very serious cases, your dog’s symptoms can last for up to 72 hours.

Early treatment can help things go a lot smoother and faster for your pup, not to mention be a lot less costly for you.

When a dog ingests a large amount of chocolate, the high theobromine levels can produce muscle tremors, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, internal bleeding, a heart attack, and in the most severe cases, death.

How Much Chocolate Will Make a Dog Sick?

Since chocolate is bad for dogs, the most significant question is how much chocolate is too much? The short answer is any.

Of course, it’s best to not let your Shih Tzu have any chocolate, but it’s worth noting what amounts and types of chocolate you should be the most concerned about.

Every dog is different, but according The Merck Veterinary Manual, it takes about one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight to potentially be lethal in a dog.

So, a few Hershey kisses might not do much to a Great Dane, but it could spell trouble for a tiny Yorkie.

If your Shih Tzu weighs about 12 pounds, eating approximately 12 ounces of chocolate could be fatal. However, even a small amount can make her sick.

The Chocolate Toxicology calculator from Merck gives a better idea of toxicity based on your dogs weight and type of chocolate.

This deadly amount applies to milk chocolate, but dark chocolates, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate are even more dangerous for your small dog due to the higher amounts of theobromine it contains.

Your dog would need to eat even less of these types of chocolate to suffer severe consequences.

Steps to Take When Your Dog Eats Chocolate

If your dog eats chocolate, your best course of action is to call your vet or local animal emergency clinic.

Do not automatically try to make your dog throw up. Call your vet first.

If after hours, you can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888)426-4435 for guidance. There may be a small consultation fee for this service.

When you talk with your vet, they'll ask you a series of questions to determine the seriousness of the situation.

The vet will ask about the type of chocolate your pup ate, how much she ate, when she ate it, and how she is acting. They will also likely ask if your dog threw up on her own.

If your pup did not throw up, then, based on your answers, you may be instructed to induce vomiting if you are able.

Typically, you do this by giving your pup one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide for every 20 pounds of body weight.

Your vet can tell you the exact amount you should give.

If your dog turns her nose up at this treatment, try tempting her by placing some peanut butter in a bowl and putting the hydrogen peroxide on the rim. As your dog goes for the peanut butter, she’ll lap up the peroxide.

NOTE: For the safety and well-being of your pet, you should never self prescribe any medical treatments to your dog without first discussing with a veterinarian.

However, the likelier scenario is that your vet will instruct you to bring your dog into the clinic so that the vet can induce vomiting and examine her.

Once at the clinic, the vet will induce vomiting using an emetic medication that she administers intravenously.

She will also perform a thorough examination of your pup to determine the best course of treatment.

For future reference, download the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center app to have instant access to information about toxic substances, toxin calculators, and suggested actions to take, as well as the helpline phone number.

It’s also handy to keep this number as well as the phone number for your vet and local emergency clinic in an easily accessible location.

Don’t use a poison control tool designed for humans, as toxins work differently among various species, and you won’t get the right advice.

Basically, the best thing to do if your Shih Tzu treats herself to a chocolate snack is to call your vet.

Don’t wait to see what happens, especially if you know your pup ate a large amount of chocolate for her body weight.

If she just ate a few bits, the odds are good that she will be fine, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Death by chocolate should only be something you see on a dessert menu; so, keep all chocolatey goodies far away from your furry friend.

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NOVEMBER 29,2020