Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. Although some kinds of chocolate like white chocolate are safer than others, they are still bad for dogs.
Your dog should avoid consuming any product made from the cocoa plant. This includes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and most other chocolate types.
Chocolate and other cocoa products contain chemical compounds called theobromine and caffeine. These chemicals can be beneficial to us humans, but dogs’ digestive systems cannot process them effectively. If a dog ingests them, it can cause a build-up of toxins that can lead to severe side effects even in small doses.
Chocolate poisoning symptoms can vary mostly due to a dog’s weight and overall health condition. Older dogs or dogs suffering from an existing health condition may be at greater risk. They can often develop worse symptoms or complications than perfectly healthy dogs.
Symptoms may take approximately 6 - 12 hours to develop and can last for a couple of days.
Dogs will start experiencing worse and worse symptoms. The severity of those symptoms depends on the amount of theobromine they consume per pound of their body weight:
We derived the data above from PetMD’s calculator.
Every chocolate type has a different amount of theobromine. The values below are only approximations and can change due to cocoa’s sources, variety, and growing conditions (PetMD):
It would be best if you can avoid feeding any amount of chocolate to your dog. However, you cannot control and supervise your canine 100% of the time.
Up to ~3 mg of theobromine consumed per pound of (your dog’s) weight is considered safe. Your dog will likely start experiencing adverse symptoms and be in potential danger if he ingested any amount higher than that.
For a quick assessment of safe consumption, we’ll use the number of Peanut M&Ms consumed instead of ounces. A single Peanut M&M contains ~2.2 mg of theobromine, which means that:
You can also use this specially made calculator to calculate the toxicity levels for you.
If your dog consumed more than ~3 mg of theobromine per pound of dog weight, he may be in danger of life-threatening symptoms. If you don’t know the exact amount ingested, it is always good to consult with a professional vet.
The professionals may ask you to induce vomiting or bring your dog to the clinic to monitor and treat him for the poisoning if necessary. In some more severe cases, your dog will need to be monitored overnight at the clinic.
Veterinarians at PetMD say these are the possible treatments for chocolate poisoning:
Chocolate is only one of the foods dogs can’t eat. See the full list here.