Q: Is chocolate really toxic to my dog? My lab ate a Cadbury egg yesterday and nothing happened.
A: Yes, chocolate is harmful for your pet to eat. The compound that makes it toxic is called theobromine. Theobromine is in all chocolate, but varies in amount depending on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate has some of the least amounts, while baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest amounts. Dogs can not metabolize theobromine the same way that humans can.
The level of toxicity depend on the weight of your dog, the amount they eat, and the type of chocolate that they eat. When your pet eats chocolate, it is best to call your veterinarian right away. Calculations can be done to find out if your pet has eaten too much. Even if not at a toxic level, any amount of chocolate can give your pet an upset stomach and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. If the amount of chocolate is toxic, your pet can have an elevated heart rate and can even start having seizures and can potentially die as a result. Treatment needs to be started immediately for these pets that eat toxic amounts. Treatment can include induction of vomiting, IV fluids, and administration of charcoal to help bind the theobromine and prevent absorption.
Your lab is probably big enough that the amount of theobromine in the Cadbury egg not enough to cause a toxicity problem, but we recommend you continue to monitor for vomiting and diarrhea. It is still best to keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets at all times.