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Can dogs eat Reese’s peanut butter cups?

The short answer to the question ‘Can a dog eat Reese’s Peanut Butter cups?’ is an emphatic “no.” Dogs should never be given chocolate in any form. A small amount will not kill a dog, but it is still very bad for the dog’s health. It makes their heart rate speed up dramatically and can cause heart failure in extreme cases.

The strength of the chocolate, like the type and amount of chocolate, can make a lot of difference. The size of the dog also makes a big difference in how much chocolate is dangerous. Most veterinarians advise against giving dogs chocolate in any form, or any amount, to a dog.

Can dogs eat Reese’s peanut butter cups?

Dogs “can” eat Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and probably will if given the chance. They should not eat them, however, as chocolate is toxic to dogs.

These cups contain milk chocolate, which is not as bad as dark chocolate would be. A single cup will not likely kill your dog, but it will make her sick. 

One of the ingredients in chocolate is theobromine, which is sort of like caffeine. Chocolate also has caffeine, and that is bad for your dog as well. Theobromine is the greater of the two evils for your dog, but both should be avoided.

A little caffeine for humans is seen as a good thing, but too much can be harmful. Even a little theobromine for dogs is not a good thing. The substance acts like caffeine in humans but is many times worse.

Dogs do not metabolize theobromine or caffeine as people do, and that makes it much more harmful to dogs than it is to humans.

This means the dog can re-absorb theobromine. It essentially repeats itself and stays in the bloodstream a long time. 

Theobromine is the main toxic item in chocolate that is harmful to dogs, but there are additional reasons a chocolate peanut butter cup is bad for dogs.

The fat and sugar are also harder to digest and can add to the discomfort your pet will feel if they get sick from chocolate. Sugar and fat are also bad for your dog’s teeth.  There really is nothing good for your dog in a chocolate peanut butter cup.

Reese’s Peanut Butter cups contain milk chocolate, which will make your dog sick but is not likely to be fatal. Milk chocolate has about  50mg of theobromine per ounce.

The darkest gourmet dark chocolate has about 400mg per ounce and can be fatal if very much is eaten. An ounce of dark chocolate would be dangerous for a 50-pound dog, and it would take several ounces of milk chocolate to make that same dog very sick.

Keep in mind the size of the dog. A 10-pound toy breed would get very sick on very little chocolate, but a 100-pound giant dog could withstand a much larger amount.

What happens if my dog eats Reese’s peanut butter cups?

If your dog eats Reese’s peanut butter cups, she will likely become ill at some point. Symptoms may take several hours to start and may last for days. Since it is milk chocolate, and if only one was eaten, you may not need to get medical care.

The most common symptoms of chocolate poisoning:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • excessive thirst and excessive urination
  • panting
  • restlessness
  • racing heart rate

In extreme cases, your dog could start to have more serious symptoms:

  • muscle tremors,
  • seizures,
  • heart failure.
  • Dogs can also develop pneumonia from excessive coughing brought on by chocolate poisoning. 

Even with a small amount of chocolate, your dog is likely to have some digestive problems. Diarrhea and or vomiting are very likely to happen. If they have not eaten a lot, that may be all that will happen to them, other than some discomfort they may feel.

If that is all that happens, your dog is lucky. Even then, the dog probably had an elevated heart rate, which was not good for the animal. There can be long-term health effects that will ultimately shorten the life of your pet.

If they have eaten strong chocolate or a large amount, they may start to have more serious symptoms, such as seizures. Theobromine can also be re-absorbed from the bladder and essentially give them a double dose of the toxic substance they have ingested.

The amount of poison in their system – the theobromine — essentially increases as it stays in the body, making fast treatment even more important.  It remains in the bloodstream for a long time and that is why symptoms can continue for days when there has been a lot of chocolate eaten.

Confusing carob

There is another substance called “carob” that looks like chocolate but is not. Specialty or gourmet dog treat makers or bakeries may use carob as a substitute for chocolate.

It is a good idea to make sure your dog has eaten chocolate and not carob, but at the same time, being cautious about your dog’s health is a good idea.  If you’re uncertain which it was, your veterinarian may advise you to just monitor the dog and see what symptoms develop. If nothing happened, it was carob and there is nothing to be concerned about. 

Some treat makers use white chocolate or very small amounts of milk chocolate in their product, and that is safe for most dogs. Even so, nearly all veterinarians advise against giving dogs chocolate in any form.

What to do if my dog eats Reese’s peanut butter cups?

When you discover your dog has eaten Reese’s peanut butter cups or any kind of chocolate, you should contact your veterinarian or pet poison hotline as soon as possible. The veterinarian can help you determine whether the amount of chocolate ingested is enough to need additional care, or how toxic the situation really is.

If you have a medium-sized to large dog, and they ate only one cup, they may only get an upset stomach and no treatment will be needed. If there was a lot of chocolate, however, the sooner you can start treatment the better off your dog will be.

You may be advised to bring your pet to the veterinarian’s office or to an after-hours animal hospital. Intravenous fluids may be administered to try to help flush out the poison.

You may also need to take frequent walks to encourage urination, which also flushes out the system. In some cases, vomiting may be induced by the veterinarian or activated charcoal may be used, to slow or stop continued recirculation of the theobromine.

The first thing to do then is to call your veterinarian and determine whether the dog has had a harmful level of chocolate. The amount of chocolate, the strength of the chocolate, as well as the size of the dog, are determining factors. With that information, a veterinarian can usually tell whether further treatment is needed.

At a minimum, you should keep a close eye on your dog for several hours and watch its behavior. They may need to go outside more often than usual to vomit or have diarrhea. 

If they are not acting sick otherwise, it may be a good idea to take them for walks to encourage urination to flush out their system. After consulting with your vet, watch the dog’s symptoms. Your veterinarian will likely tell you what to look for, and when to bring the dog in for examination.

If there was a lot of chocolate, your vet may want to see your pet immediately, and if so, they should get the animal there as soon as possible. If a toxic amount was ingested, the sooner treatment begins the better chance your dog will have of overcoming the poison.

There have been a lot of warnings about chocolate, and most pet owners are responsible enough for not allowing their dogs to have the substance. As a result, there are very few fatalities due to chocolate. Dogs do often get sick from eating chocolate though. If it is left where they can reach it, they will likely do so.

If your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your vet and follow the advice you are given. In general, 20mg of theobromine for every KG (2.2 pounds) of dog, can cause some sickness. Severe symptoms develop when they get 40-50 mg of theobromine for every kg of the dog’s weight.  

While you should get veterinarian advice as soon as you can after discovering your dog has eaten chocolate, prevention is a better answer. Be careful with your chocolate and keep it out of the reach of your dog. Remember a dog will eat just about anything if it smells like anything at all.

The smell of chocolate may be enough incentive for them to make a greater effort to get to the chocolate. A Christmas present under a tree, for instance, would not fool a dog who smelled chocolate inside. Avoid feeding your dog chocolate, but also, do what is necessary to keep temptation out of their way.

How many Reese’s peanut butter cups are too many for a dog?

Most veterinarians would say that one Reese’s peanut butter cup is too many for a dog of any size. Nearly all vets would say you should never intentionally give a dog Reese’s peanut butter cups, or chocolate in any form. 

A large dog might be able to eat one and only have an upset stomach afterward. Even that is not good for the dog and could cause problems if done very often at all.

For a small dog, a whole one could cause sickness, but would not likely be life-threatening. Milk chocolate is normally not strong enough to cause serious health issues.  Even so, a small dog could get pretty sick with just one peanut butter cup.

We all love our dogs and want the best for them. We also want them to be happy. Your dog may see you eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and want some of what you are eating. They may give you a pitiful look that makes you want to do what they want.

Keep in mind though, that giving chocolate to a dog, in any form, is not healthy. Giving your dog chocolate is poisoning your dog. The best you can hope for in that situation is for them to get a stomach ache and vomit what they have eaten. Dog owners are responsible for their pets and need to make the right choice for their dogs. Giving them chocolate is never the right choice.

Many people like Reese’s peanut butter cups, and your dog might like eating one too. The dog does not, however, know that they are poisonous. It is up to humans to make sure dogs do not eat things that are bad for them.

Some treats are not “good” for your dog but basically cause no harm. Bread, or some cookies, is a good example. Chocolate, however, is definitely bad for your dog and will cause harm to some degree.

The size of the dog and the amount of chocolate determine how sick your dog will get. There are studies that have shown that repeated exposure to theobromine, even in small amounts that cause no symptoms, can deteriorate the heart muscles that pump blood in your dog.

That could ultimately lead to heart failure and shorten the life of your pet. This is why it is not a good thing to give even a big dog small amounts of chocolate. It can be poisonous in the short term and can cause heart problems in the long term.