Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

With Halloween is just around the corner, your home will probably be filled extra sweets and candies. If the kiddies and the grown ups don’t munch on them all before the big day, your furry children may try to get their share.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains theobromine, which is a stimulant found in the cocoa bean. It’s similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant.

While chocolate toxicity is rarely fatal, it can cause significant illness in your pet. And yes, cats are susceptible too. But since felines do not have a sweet tooth  they are less prone to eating chocolate.

A general rule of thumb is that the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your dog.

Dark chocolates, baking chocolate, and dry cocoa powder are more dangerous than white or milk chocolate. But 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight could still be deadly. A ten pound dog can easily eat a pound of chocolate. Cooking, baking, & high quality dark chocolate contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Milk chocolate contains 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate has 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce. (

National Geographic and PetMD both have interactive tools on their websites to find out about theobromine  levels and how they might affect a dog of a specific breed or weight.

chocolate chart for dogs


Milk Chocolate
Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.7 ounces per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when two ounces per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as one pound of milk chocolate for a 20-pound dog).

Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Mild signs of toxicity can occur when 0.3 ounce per pound of body weight is ingested; severe toxicity occurs when one ounce per pound of body weight is ingested (or as little as six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for a 20-pound dog).

Baking Chocolate
This type of chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine. Therefore, as little as two small one-ounce squares of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20-pound dog (or 0.1 ounce per pound of body weight).

Many gourmet dog treats use carob as a chocolate substitute.
Carob looks similar to chocolate and the two are often confused. Some specialty dog bakeries will use a small amount of milk chocolate in their treats. Since the amount of theobromine is typically low, this may be safe for most dogs. However, most veterinarians recommend that you avoid giving your dog chocolate in any form

PetMD Chocolate Toxicity Meter

petMD Chocolate Toxicity Meter

According to PetMD, if you think your dog did eat chocolate, don’t wait for the warning signs as symptoms can take 6-12 hours to show up. They include extreme thirst, diarrhea, increased body temperature, muscle rigidity, manic energy, pacing, panting, shaking, and seizures.

Tina Wismer, DVM is the medical director of the Animal Poison Control Center at the ACPCA. She recommends calling your Vet right away. “Typically, your dog will vomit on his own. If not, your vet might want you to give him hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up — 1 tablespoon for every 20 pounds, Wismer says. You can use a turkey baster or a medicine dropper to give him the liquid.

Some pet owners bribe their dog with peanut butter in a bowl and the hydrogen peroxide around the rim, she says, seeing as pups tend to lick their bowls clean. Once your dog vomits, don’t give him any food or water.” (

The ASPCA also has a 24-hour poison hotline at 888-426-4435.

August 2020 Update!

A reader from sent in this additional resource with tons of great information on the topic.

What to do if your dog eats chocolate: Useful tips to help your dog covers how much chocolate is toxic, which types of chocolate are the most toxic, and about what the signs are if your dog has eaten too much of this sweet. Here’s a preview of one of their infographics. You can click on it for the full-sized version and then visit their website for the complete article written by Peter Laskay.

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