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Can Dogs Eat Chocolate? An Anti-Poisoning Guide

By Aviram K.
Published in Food & Nutrition
Updated at January 15, 2021
3 min read
Can Dogs Eat Chocolate? An Anti-Poisoning Guide
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

❌ No.

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.

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

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. 

What Happens if a Dog Eats Chocolate

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.

Potential Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs

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:  

  • Less than ~3 mg/lbs (~6 mg/kg): No Toxicity
    • No symptoms are likely to develop.
  • At ~3 - 7 mg/lbs (~6-15 mg/kg): Mild Toxicity
    • Diarrhea
    • Shaking
    • Vomiting
    • Hyperactivity
  • At ~7 - 15 mg/lbs (~15-33 mg/kg): Mild-Moderate Toxicity
    • Tremors
    • Elevated heart rates
    • Heart arrhythmias
  • At ~15 - 23 mg/lbs (~33-50 mg/kg): Moderate-Severe Toxicity
    • Hyperthermia
  • At ~23 mg/lbs (~50 mg/kg) and Higher: Severe Toxicity
    • Seizures
    • Collapse
    • Death

We derived the data above from PetMD’s calculator.

Theobromine In Different Types Of Chocolate

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):

  • Baking Chocolate: ~367 mg/oz (~13 mg/g)
  • Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa): ~227 mg/oz (~8 mg/g)
  • Semisweet Chocolate Chips: ~150 mg/oz (~5 mg/g)
  • Cocoa Powder: ~142 mg/oz (~5 mg/g)
  • Milk Chocolate: ~44 mg/oz (~1.5 mg/g)
  • Peanut M&M: ~31 mg/oz (~1 mg/g)
  • Single Peanut M&M: ~2.2mg (weighs ~0.07 oz / ~2g)
  • White Chocolate: ~0.25 mg/oz (~0.01 mg/g)

How Much Chocolate Can a Dog Eat?

sick dog

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.

Consumption Limits Before Symptoms Show Up

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:

  • A small dog that weighs 10 lbs (4.5 kg) could eat up to ~13 single Peanut M&Ms before symptoms show up (~30 mg of theobromine consumed).
  • A medium dog that weighs 35 lbs (15.8 kg) could eat up to ~47 single Peanut M&Ms before symptoms show up (~105 mg of theobromine consumed).
  • A large dog that weighs 80 lbs (36.3 kg) could eat up to ~109 single Peanut M&Ms before symptoms show up (~240 mg of theobromine consumed)
  • A giant dog that weighs 120 lbs (54.4 kg) could eat up to ~163 single Peanut M&Ms before symptoms show up (~360 mg of theobromine consumed)

You can also use this specially made calculator to calculate the toxicity levels for you. 

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Chocolate

Immediately call your veterinarian, out of hours, or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) for advice.

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. 

Treatments the Vet May Use To Treat Your Dog for Chocolate Poisoning

Veterinarians at PetMD say these are the possible treatments for chocolate poisoning:

  • Activated charcoal to reduce and prevent any more absorption of the toxin.
  • Intravenous fluids to hydrate your dog and support the heart.
  • Passage of a stomach tube to clear toxins from the stomach.
  • Other therapies for other symptoms your dog may be experiencing.

Chocolate is only one of the foods dogs can’t eat. See the full list here.


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Food Safety

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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

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