We see the lists everywhere online. Your dog shouldn’t eat this. Keep your dog away from this. Most of us, as responsible pet owners, know what we can feed our dog. However, every now and then, mistakes happen. We’re only human. So what do we do if our dog eats something bad?

Please note that Ruff Life ATX is a dog walking & pet sitting business. We are not veterinarians, so we cannot give medical advice. Instead, we hope to provide tips and tricks that have helped us and our clients navigate these scary, nerve-wracking situations.

After Your Dog Eats Something They Shouldn’t

dog eats something they shouldn't

As soon as you realize that your dog has consumed something they shouldn’t have, it’s time to assess the item. Some common no-nos that dogs manage to get their paws on are:

  • Chocolate
  • Sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Coffee or other sources of caffeine
  • Cooked bones
  • Onions or garlic
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Medications
  • Toys

While all of these can be very harmful to your dog, it’s important to note what they ate and how much of it. After taking this into consideration, it’s time to decide on your next steps. You have a few options (or combination of options):

  • Sit, wait, watch
  • Call an experienced friend, family member, or resource
  • Dial the Pet Poison Helpline
  • Call your vet
  • Take your dog directly to the emergency vet

Let’s dive into how to decide which option is best for you.

Please remember that we are not veterinarians, and we are not providing medical advice. We are simply stating information that we have gathered from our own experiences.

Sit, wait, watch

Low cost, low expertise

Keep an eye on your dog for some common poisoning symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Racing heart rate
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Inability to relax
  • Black-colored stool

The Pet Poison Helpline has all the signs you should keep an eye out for in this resource.

Do know that some of these signs are more severe than others, and if seen, may mean the issue has worsened exponentially. There’s no perfect formula to follow here. Keep a close eye on your dog and watch for any abnormal signs.

Call an experienced friend, family member, or resource

Low cost, low expertise

If someone you know has experienced a similar or situation or is knowledgable in dog health, you may decide to reach out to them for advice. Just like us, do remember that their experience and knowledge does not apply directly to your dog. Every dog and every scenario is different. You know your dog best, so you may solicit their advice, but do know that you have the final say.

Dial the Pet Poison Helpline

Medium cost, high expertise

This is a common response and for good reason, too. The Pet Poison Helpline is there for you when you need them, and their expertise is exactly what you’re dealing with. Please know that your call with the Pet Poison Helpline will cost you $59. While this is a small price to pay for peace of mind, very often, the helpline will just tell you to hang up and head to the vet (where you’ll spend even more money).

Call your vet

Medium cost, high expertise

Most vets will tell you to come on in to their office. They don’t want to be liable for your pet getting extremely ill. However, if your dog just took a little nibble of something, and you just want some peace of mind, a quick call will be helpful for your sanity.

Take your dog directly to the emergency vet

High cost, high expertise

If your dog consumed toxic levels of something or there is an obstruction, it’s probably time to head to the emergency vet. Emergency vets have a high price tag, but that is normal and expected for any emergency situation.

Your Dog Eats Something Like… Chocolate

Let’s talk about chocolate in particular. As you’re well aware, there are different kinds of chocolate out there. Does the type of chocolate affect your dog differently? The answer here is yes. According to PetMD, Theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that’s toxic to dogs, and it is find within cacao. White chocolate has the lowest level of theobromine. Next comes milk chocolate – it has a higher theobromine content than white chocolate but not as much as the worst chocolate suspects: dark chocolate and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the most theobromine, so it is the most dangerous form of chocolate that your dog can eat.

Look at your chocolate wrapper or packaging and check out the product’s cacao content. This will tell you how much of chocolate’s main ingredient, cacao, is present in the bar or candy. Then, consider your dog’s size and general health. Are they 80 lbs or 5 lbs? Are they prone to health issues and/or a sensitive stomach?

PetMD has an easy little calculator you can use to have a rough estimate of where your dog stands:

Dog Eats Something Bad

With this in mind, still know that veterinarians and pet poison helplines have seen emergency cases that fall outside of these parameters. So this does not mean you are in the clear.

Nothing Beats Peace of Mind

While we all aren’t made of money, sometimes, a trip to the vet is worth our own sanity and peace of mind. Your veterinarian can assess your dog’s state and give you their expert advice. You’ll feel much more at ease knowing what’s going on and what you need to look out for in the coming days.


Have you experienced a situation where your dog ate something they shouldn’t? Do you have any tips or insights to add? Comment below!