You’ve probably heard that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. When your dog licks a chocolate wrapper, it can be scary. Will they be ok? What should you do?
It’s true that chocolate can be dangerous for dogs. However, it takes a significant amount of chocolate to pose a danger to your pooch, which they are unlikely to get from licking a wrapper.
What happens if my dog licked a chocolate wrapper?
If your dog licked a chocolate wrapper, you really don’t have anything to worry about. Particularly if it was milk chocolate or a standard candy bar. Yes, chocolate is absolutely dangerous for dogs. It causes many cases of poisoning each year.
However, two factors impact the danger. The type of chocolate, and the amount ingested.
Why Is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?
Chocolate contains theobromine. This is what is responsible for the buzz you may feel when eating chocolate. It’s also a reason why chocolate is so prized and loved by humans around the world.
However, dogs don’t metabolize theobromine the way humans do. When we eat it, most of the chemical has left our bodies within 20 to 40 minutes.
When a dog consumes theobromine, it stays in their body. In fact, only half of the theobromine has been metabolized 17 hours after they eat the chocolate.
Theobromine is a stimulant, similar to caffeine, which is also present in chocolate. This is what makes it enjoyable for us, and what makes it dangerous for our four-legged family members.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity
Mild chocolate toxicity can cause diarrhea and vomiting. More serious symptoms include restlessness, hyperactivity, increased urination, and tremors.
Life-threatening chocolate poisoning can cause an abnormal heart rate, seizures, loss of consciousness, and death.
How Much Chocolate is Dangerous to a Dog?
Now you know the potentially toxic effects of chocolate for dogs. Perhaps you are concerned about the amount of chocolate your pooch ingested. The good news is, they would have to get much more than a lick to cause them harm.
The real danger is from bakers chocolate and cocoa powder. These contain the highest amounts of theobromine.
In fact, it takes only 2 ounces of baker’s chocolate to kill a dog that weighs 20 pounds. When it comes to milk chocolate, the risk is much lower. It would take 20 ounces of milk chocolate, or 13 regular sized Hershey bars, to kill a dog weighing 20 pounds. It’s highly unlikely your pooch will get access to this much chocolate.
Smaller dogs will be affected by even smaller amounts. For example, a 9 pound dog is at serious risk of fatal chocolate poisoning if they consume 1 ounce of baking chocolate. It would take 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate to be life threatening. When it comes to milk chocolate, it becomes dangerous if the dog eats 9 ounces, or 6 regular candy bars.
It’s also important to note that your dog can experience chocolate poisoning at lower doses.
What happens if my dog licked a dark chocolate wrapper?
Dark chocolate is much more dangerous for dogs than milk chocolate, so there is more concern if they get their paws on dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate
There’s a big difference between the amount of cocoa in dark chocolate compared to the amount in milk chocolate. Technically, milk chocolate contains 10-50% cocoa. Hershey’s milk chocolate, for example, is 30% cocoa. Most milk chocolates contain a similar amount of cocoa.
Dark chocolate, however, can vary widely. If it contains more than 50% cocoa, it’s considered dark chocolate. However, it can contain as much as 90% cocoa.
Cocoa is directly linked to theorbromine, so the more cocoa is in the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content.
Should You Worry?
Should you worry if your dog only licked the wrapper of a piece of dark chocolate? Probably not. However, you should use some common sense. If you have a 5 pound teacup chihuhua, it’s wise to at least monitor them for symptoms. If you have golden retriever, you have nothing to worry about.
You’ll also need to consider the type of dark chocolate. A dark chocolate Hershey’s bar, for example, only has 45-50% cocoa. Some specialty chocolate bars can contain 85-90% cooca.
So, if a small dog licks a wrapper that contained chocolate that was 90% cocoa, this is a bit concerning. It’s unlikely that they will get enough to harm them, but you should take a few precautions. More on that in an upcoming section.
What happens if my dog licked a chocolate muffin wrapper?
Chocolate muffins contain little actual chocolate, so you don’t need to worry if your dog licked a chocolate muffin wrapper. Your biggest concern will be them making a mess with the wrapper.
What happens if my dog licked a chocolate foil wrapper?
Again, it depends on the type of chocolate it contained. However, generally speaking, it’s unlikely your dog will get enough chocolate to cause any symptoms.
What to do if my dog licked a chocolate wrapper?
Most dogs who lick a chocolate wrapper don’t show any symptoms, but it is important to know how to handle the situation.
If Your Dog Licked a Wrapper
If your dog licked a wrapper, it’s best to simply monitor them for the next 6-12 hours. If you notice any strange symptoms, contact your vet. If you don’t, you can assume your pooch is fine.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. If the chocolate was very dark, or the wrapper contained baking chocolate or pure cocoa powder, this warrants a call to the vet to be safe. If your dog is very small and the wrapper contains dark chocolate, contact your vet.
Lastly, if your pooch is very young, elderly, or has a major health condition, it’s best to get advice from your vet.
If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
Chocolate wrappers pose little risk to your dog, but what if they eat the chocolate inside the wrapper? This can be more concerning.
First, figure out what type of chocolate your dog ate. Milk chocolate is highly unlikely to cause any issues, unless your dog eats several bars of it.
However, dark and baking chocolate can be dangerous. If your pooch eats this type of chocolate, it’s best to contact your vet.
You can also call the pet poison helpline. They have an extensive database of potential toxins. They will use a formula that includes your dog’s weight and the amount of chocolate they ate, and give you advice on your next steps. If you need to take them to the vet, they can work with them to create a treatment plan.
You may need to induce vomiting if your dog ate a lot of chocolate or dark chocolate. You can do this with hydrogen peroxide, which you probably have in your medicine cabinet.
Give your dog 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight, up to 3 tablespoons. They should begin vomiting within 15 minutes. If it’s been 30 minutes and they aren’t vomiting, repeat the dose one time.
This will bring up much of what’s in your dog’s stomach, before it can enter their system. However, it only works if you induce vomiting within 2 hours of your dog eating chocolate.