Chocolate Toxicity In Dogs

In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons behind chocolate’s toxicity to dogs. Plus the types of chocolate that are most dangerous, the symptoms of chocolate poisoning, and what to do if your dog ingests this forbidden treat.

Is Chocolate Toxic for Dogs?

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably wondered if chocolate is toxic for dogs. Maybe you want to share some of your sweets or your furry friend has gotten into something they’re not supposed to. Whether your puppy ate chocolate, your adult dog consumed chocolate or swallowed some cocoa powder— you’re understandably concerned about their well-being. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons behind chocolate’s toxicity to dogs. Plus the types of chocolate that are most dangerous, the symptoms of chocolate poisoning, and what to do if your dog ingests this forbidden treat.

Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

First of all, yes. Chocolate is toxic to dogs! So be careful and keep your chocolates out of reach from areas where your dog can get to them. Also, as yummy as chocolate is, don’t feed it to your pets!

How Much Chocolate is Harmful to Dogs?

The amount of chocolate considered harmful varies based on the dog’s weight and the type of chocolate ingested. Different types of chocolate will have different concentrations of theobromine and caffeine.

Generally, the smaller the dog and the darker the chocolate, the less it takes to become toxic.

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?

The answer lies in two compounds found in chocolate: theobromine and caffeine. 

Unlike humans, dogs metabolise both of these substances at a much slower rate. This means that both accumulate to toxic levels within their system.

Theobromine Poisoning in Dogs

Theobromine, specifically, is a methylxanthine alkaloid (a class of drug that stimulates and makes it easier to breathe) that is a major culprit in chocolate toxicity for dogs.

This alkaloid is responsible for the stimulating effects found in chocolate. While all types of chocolates contain theobromine, its concentration varies among different chocolate types. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine compared to milk chocolate, making them more dangerous for dogs.

Theobromine can affect your dog’s heart, nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract. The results can come from an array of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Depending on the type of chocolate consumed and the dog’s size.

Level of Toxicity by Type of Chocolate


  • White Chocolate: Contains the least theobromine, around 0.25 mg per 28 grams of chocolate.
  • Milk Chocolate: Contains 44–58 mg per 28 grams of chocolate.
  • Dark Chocolate: Contains between 130–450 mg per 28 grams of chocolate.

In addition to white, milk and dark chocolate, you also need to be cautious of cocoa powder and coffee grounds with your dog.

“My dog ate chocolate, now what?” 

In very small doses, dogs can eat chocolate without the fear of fatality. Which is why you might find some dog treats with small traces. However, we never recommend giving your dog chocolate. Instead, you can try carobs, which are a chocolate alternative treat full of nutrients, that your furry friend can safely enjoy. 

Carobs contain no theobromine, caffeine or sugar. So if you see a chocolate-looking dog treat, make sure that it says ‘carob’ instead of chocolate on the label before you give any to your dog. 

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

Recognising the signs of chocolate poisoning is crucial for your dog’s safety. If your dog has consumed chocolate, be on the lookout for these symptoms. 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • In severe cases, death

How long does it usually take for symptoms to kick in?

Symptoms usually take 2-4 hours to appear but can take up to 12 hours. 

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, don’t wait. It’s best to intervene with treatment before these symptoms appear. Early intervention makes a significant difference in outcome. 

Contact your local vet immediately.


Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning

Prompt action is essential when dealing with chocolate poisoning in dogs. The treatment can involve:

Inducing Vomiting: This is often done when the ingestion is recent and the chocolate hasn’t fully entered the dog’s system (within 2 hours). Your vet will give your dog a drug to get them to vomit.

This treatment is best performed under the supervision of a vet. However, if you’re too far away from a clinic you may be asked to induce vomiting for your dog at home. Carefully follow along with your vet’s instructions. 

Administering Activated Charcoal:
Activated charcoal helps absorb the toxins and prevent their further absorption into the bloodstream. You can administer activated charcoal to your dog at home but it’s important that you give them the right amount. In some cases, dogs are made to both vomit and given activated charcoal to clean up any remaining theobromine.

If you already have activated charcoal at home, you can call our veterinary clinic and we’ll give you instructions for the best dosage for your dog. 

Providing Supportive Care:
IV fluids may also administered after vomiting and/or charcoal to help dilute any theobromine levels in their blood. 

This can include intravenous (IV) fluids to flush out toxins and medications to manage symptoms. Diazepam may also be given to your dog to help control any tremors or seizures. 

Please note that home remedies are not recommended when it comes to chocolate poisoning in dogs. Prompt professional veterinary care is the ideal solution to ensure that your pet is able to be properly examined, receive
appropriate treatment, and be monitored for symptoms. 

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

It’s also important to mention that cats are also sensitive to theobromine and caffeine. So remember to keep chocolate away from them as well. If you suspect your cat has ingested chocolate, it’s wise to seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Prevention Is Key: Keep Away Those Chocolates!

Prevention is the most effective way to protect your furry friend from chocolate toxicity. Keep all chocolate products, including chocolate chip cookies, chocolate sweets and cocoa powder, out of your dog’s reach. It’s also important to educate your family and kids about the dangers of feeding chocolate to dogs, to keep your dogs safe. 

In Case of Emergency

If you’re ever in doubt about your dog’s condition after chocolate consumption, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local vet or an emergency animal hospital. Here are two Bayside Animal Hospitals that can provide assistance:

Contact us at our clinics if you have any concerns for your dog. 

Get in touch with us for your next appointment