The first thing to do if your dog eats chocolate is to act quickly but not panic. Stay calm for your dog. I know this is easier said than done. One of my dogs ate chocolate, so I’ve been there. 

If your dog shows signs of chocolate toxicity, time is of the essence. Seek medical advice from your emergency veterinarian or a pet poison helpline immediately.

They may ask for details like the type of chocolate consumed, your dog’s weight, and the amount. It’s also important to know when your dog ate the chocolate, it makes a difference if it was 2 hours ago, 24-hour hours ago, or 2 days.

Let’s dive into the different types of chocolate, theobromine content, the size of your dog, symptoms of chocolate poisoning, and most importantly, how you can use a chocolate toxicity calculator to determine the severity of the situation.

dog with a heart box of chocolate.

Chocolate Toxicity Calculator

The chocolate toxicity calculator will help you figure out how much chocolate is lethal to dogs. A small bite of dark chocolate is not the same as if your dog ate a chocolate chip cookie. 

All you need to do is plug in the type of chocolate, the amount, and your dog’s weight, it then gives you an estimate of the risk level. 

In rare cases, a small dog might need medical attention even if they ingested a relatively small amount of chocolate. The calculator helps you gauge the urgency and decide whether a trip to the vet is necessary.

This Chocolate Toxicity calculator is brought to you by PetCare.com.au to help dog owners get a better idea if they should be rushing to the emergency vet. 

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

According to the AKC website, it can take 6 to 12 hours for your dog to show any symptoms of chocolate poisoning, and symptoms can last up to 72 hours

Recognizing the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs is crucial for prompt intervention. Theobromine, present in chocolate, affects dogs’ central nervous and cardiovascular systems, leading to a range of symptoms. 

In mild cases, you might observe:

  • increased thirst
  • restlessness
  • panting
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

As the toxicity progresses, your dog may experience more severe signs such as: 

  • elevated heart rate
  • tremors
  • muscle rigidity
  • seizures

In severe cases, chocolate poisoning can lead to heart failure, coma, or even death. 

It’s essential to be highly aware and seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any of these symptoms, especially considering that early recognition and action can significantly improve the chances of a positive outcome.

If you know your dog has eaten chocolate, do not wait to see symptoms. It’s best to treat your dog before they show signs of feeling sick. 

Use the Chocolate Toxicity Meter for Dogs above, and call your emergency vet right away.

dog looking at a plate of chocolate chip cookies

What Types of Chocolate Are Toxic to My Dog?

Okay, let’s get one thing straight – not all chocolates are created equal. There are three main types we need to be aware of: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. 

The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be for our dogs. Baker’s chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are at the top of the danger list due to their high theobromine content. On the other hand, white chocolate contains very little theobromine, making it less harmful to dogs.

So the simple answer is that ALL chocolate can be toxic, depending on the type, amount, and size of your dog.

Chocolate comes in many forms. If your dog ate a chocolate chip cookiechocolate cake, or donut and you are worried, use the toxicity calculator above. 

Always use caution and call your emergency vet if you are concerned or see any signs of chocolate poisoning.

different types of chocolate.

What are Methylxanthines and Theobromine?

The toxic compounds in chocolate are methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine.

Methylxanthines are a group of compounds found in chocolate, with theobromine being the primary methylxanthine of concern when it comes to dogs. Theobromine belongs to the methylxanthine class and is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system and cardiovascular systems in both humans and animals. 

In chocolate, theobromine is derived from cocoa beans, and its concentration varies among different types of chocolate.

Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, unsweetened baking chocolate, and certain gourmet or baking chocolates contain higher levels of theobromine compared to milk chocolate or white chocolate. Dogs metabolize theobromine more slowly than humans, making them more susceptible to its toxic effects.

When a dog ingests chocolate, theobromine can lead to various symptoms of poisoning, ranging from mild to severe. 

Methylxanthines stimulate the release of adrenaline, leading to increased heart rate, restlessness, and, in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythms and seizures. 

Theobromine also affects the gastrointestinal system, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

It’s crucial for pet owners to be aware of the theobromine content in different chocolate products and recognize that smaller dogs are at a higher risk due to their size and metabolism. Understanding the role of methylxanthines in chocolate toxicity helps in taking timely action if a dog accidentally consumes chocolate, as prompt veterinary attention is essential to mitigate the potential harmful effects.

dog laying on table with vet giving medication.

Treatment Options for When Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Do not try home remedies if your dog eats chocolate. Chocolate poisoning can be deadly, it’s not something you want to handle on your own. Talk to your veterinarian about possible treatments you can do at home. 

When a dog ingests chocolate, prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of theobromine, a stimulant found in chocolate. The specific treatment options depend on the severity of the chocolate ingestion and theobromine toxicity. 

Here are some common treatment options:

  1. Inducing Vomiting: In mild cases, if the ingestion occurred within the last two hours, a veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting to remove the chocolate from the stomach. This is often done using hydrogen peroxide, but it should only be administered under veterinary guidance.
  2. Activated Charcoal: To further prevent absorption of theobromine into the bloodstream, activated charcoal may be administered. Activated charcoal binds to the theobromine in the stomach, preventing its absorption.
  3. Hospitalization: In moderate to severe cases, especially if theobromine levels in the bloodstream are high, hospitalization may be necessary. Intravenous fluids can help flush theobromine from the system and provide supportive care.
  4. Medications: Medications may be administered to control symptoms, such as seizures or abnormal heart rhythms. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate medications based on the clinical signs exhibited by your dog.
  5. Monitoring: After initial treatment, close monitoring of your dog’s vital signs, including heart rate and respiratory rate, is essential. This allows veterinarians to assess the response to treatment and address any emerging issues promptly.

Remember, treatment should always be administered by a veterinary professional. Never attempt to induce vomiting or administer any medications without consulting your veterinarian first.

Dog Eating Chocolate in Easter Basket

Most popular chocolate holidays

The top three chocolate holidays in order of popularity include:

  1. Easter (March/April)
  2. Halloween (October 31)
  3. Valentine’s Day (February 14)

Other popular chocolate holidays:

  1. Christmas (December 31)
  2. Mother’s Day (May)
  3. Birthday’s
  4. Anniversary’s
  5. Father’s Day (June)
  6. National Chocolate Day (October 28th)
  7. World Chocolate Day (July 7)

My Dog and Chocolate Story

Let me take you back a few years to a moment of mild panic in our household. Our lovable 80-pound black lab, Nala, decided to embark on a secret chocolate feast. It happened after a pleasant dinner out with my family; my kids were eagerly searching for the Valentine’s Day chocolates Grandpa had sent. To our surprise, all we found were two empty boxes scattered on the floor. The realization hit – Nala had indulged in not one, but two small boxes of chocolates. 

With a couple of hours away from home, the worry set in. Fortunately, Nala showed no signs of illness, and we learned a valuable lesson: never leave chocolate unattended on the counter. It’s a memory we chuckle about now, but it serves as a reminder to keep our sweet treats out of our dog’s reach.

Conclusion

The best way to deal with chocolate poisoning is to prevent it in the first place. Keep all kinds of chocolates well hidden and out of your dog’s reach. Educate family members, especially children, about the dangers of sharing chocolate with your dog. 

So there you have it – a crash course on what to do if your dog gets into chocolate. The importance of recognizing symptoms, and acting quickly by contacting emergency veterinary services are crucial for a happy ending. Better safe than sorry. A phone call to your vet will help put your mind at ease. 

What’s Next?

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. I’ve been frantically trying to figure out how panicked I should be while sitting in the vet clinic waiting room, and this calculator + advice has at least talked me down from hysterical tears. Being such a big dog made it difficult to wrangle her through the door, but it’s a relief to know that also means a few brownies probably won’t hit her too hard. Thanks for making this available!

  2. If your dog has ingested chocolate, it's crucial to seek immediate veterinary assistance. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to dogs. Time is of the essence, so don't hesitate to contact a professional to ensure your dog's well-being.

  3. OMG!!! The chocolate toxicity calculator is AMAZING!!! I've never seen one like that or heard of it. I put in my dog, Henry's weight and the most likely chocolate he would encounter (chocolate chip cookie) and it was mild. It even gives the symptoms to look and symptoms of concern. WOW!!!! That is really cool!

    I'm sharing this right now with all my dog friends! 😊💖🐶

  4. My neighbor feeds his 65 lb Doodle
    2–4 Chips ahoy Chocolate cookies
    every night for a treat, plus what is left in his bowl
    Of ice cream with Hershey’s Syrup. Is this dangerous to the pup?

    1. Both are milk chocolate and I’m guessing since the dog eats it every night it’s not dangerous, but certainly not healthy for the dog (or the human, LOL). I’d be worried more about the amount of sugar!

  5. My toy poodle ate like very little bit of milk chocolate. He found it somewhere I don’t know but I got it out and I think he swallowed some because when I got it out but it was still in the shape it was before. So will he be okay?

  6. My 6 month old pup who’s around 25-28kg ate 400g of milk chocolate. He’s 8 hours after eating the chocolate, he’s not showing signs, I live in an extremely remote area and I don’t have access to a vet. I’m super worried is there anything I can do?

  7. So i walked into the tv room and one or both of my dogs ate around 4 Hershey kisses one is a pit bull and the other is a poodle will they be ok i dont have the money to take them to the animal hospital since its after 8pm here

  8. My english golden cream service dog ate a 6.6 oz box of chocolate covered cherries. At first I was OMG!!!! But I looked up what to do and found a formula for calculation. Ounces of chocolate x fifty eight ÷ dogs weight. As long if the final number is not to close to 20 they should be fine but to watch them for 72 hours. So for mine it was 6.6×58÷70 came out to be 5.468 so hopefully he will be ok

  9. My dog ate about 600 mg of dark chocolate a few days ago and he got extremely sick. He is a 7 year old Rhodesian ridgeback/mastiff and weighs 87 pounds, who has an enormous sweet tooth! That amount made him violently ill. He threw up a lot at first and then was extremely hyper active. I took him to the vets and his heart rate was above 200! He was very sick. For the past two days he has been on IV fluids and has a catheter in place. He is back home now for the night, and hopefully he rests tonight and gets no more tremors.
    Dark chocolate in the amount he ate has been extremely toxic. I thought we were going to lose him. I will never have chocolate in our home again! This experience has scared me a lot!

  10. In the mid 1970’s, we went to a cabin in the mountains with another family for Christmas week. We brought our wrapped gifts with us. Our friends had a Cairn Terrier they left in the cabin while we all went to town to buy a tree. When we returned, there were empty paper cups and a shredded Sees one lb. candy box, no candy. The dog had vomited, had diarrhea and drank water like crazy. None of us knew about the toxicity and just watched him until the problem disappeared in a couple of days. He never seemed to be in any lingering distress and recovered. Sees chocolates are a very high end candy and the box had an assortment. Someone had given our friends the box for Christmas.

  11. This is very useful information and I feel would benefit a lot of pet owners. Gonzo ate some chocolate once (the girls were not being careful with their cupcake) and I panicked. The vet confirmed everything you wrote. Also, that some dogs because of sensitivity or low immune system may react more regardless of dosage.

  12. My response to your post title is: TRY not to panic!! My dog ate a big thing of chocolate chip cookies. Luckily he is 70lbs and it was semisweet. He sure had a tummy ache from all those cookies, but he turned out to be ok. I of course visited the chocolate calculator!

  13. I had no idea that chocolate could be toxic for dogs until a few years ago while reading some of the dog blogs. It scares me how much we may have “messed up” our pets back when I was a child because we had no idea of the food and plants that were toxic.

  14. Now it’s hard to believe that decades ago, I used to routinely share chocolate candy bars with my 50 pound dog. She never got sick, because it really was a small amount of milk chocolate. Now I know better and never give my dogs chocolate.

  15. Dogs ingesting any chocolate is definitely a scary thing, but you are so right that overreacting does not help. And it takes more chocolate than you think to make them sick. Just like onions and garlic and grapes and whatever else, it’s just best to do whatever possible to keep potentially toxic foods up and away where our dogs can’t accidentally get into them, and to keep your vet’s number and the pet poison hotline number posted on your fridge. Great reminder post

  16. Such great info!!! I learned this from my vet when I panicked once after one of our pups ate a little chocolate. I love how you point out size of pup verse amount eaten and TYPE of chocolate! A lot of chocolate these days has such a low true chocolate in it. Still its always better to be concerned and ask for help than wait if in doubt. Great post to help us be aware of the signs of trouble!

  17. Our dog ate some M & Ms just over a year ago. At first, we weren’t too worried because they are milk chocolate, but he started vomiting and then became very restless. I was worried that he would have a heart attack and took him to the ER. Fortunately, he was okay.

  18. Well first thing I’d be like what did you do with Mr. N? And who are you? He doesn’t like chocolate. We’re still cautious about it though as he’s tiny and almost all of the chocolate in the house is dark or baking chocolate.

  19. I don’t own a dog however I’ve always heard chocolate is toxic to dogs. What I didn’t realize is that it depends on the amount as well as the size of the dog. Hmm…I learned something new. I definitely agree the best phone call to make is to the vet pronto.

  20. I like your list of symptoms – gets the message across loud and clear. I am sure so many people don’t know about chocolate. Kids eat it, dogs are family so they eat it too NOOOOOOO! We cannot ever stop trying to get the message across to dog owners.

  21. What a good article. I think to you need to know what it likely a risk for your own home environment. We know it’s a higher risk in our home for a few reasons 1) He’s 3.5 pounds so the impact is faster, harder and … well … 2) we are health nuts and that means we don’t do “candy” chocolate (in many countries if there isn’t at least 50% real cacao it can’t be called chocolate but only Candy) … we have cacao in the house. 100% raw cacao. So if any of that falls to the ground I am SUPER fast at cleaning it up. 3) know your dog. My dog isn’t food driven. Before we went vegan … I once dropped a lice of filet mignon on my lap right in front of him. He sniffed it, looked at me, and settled back to snooze. So … in that sense we are lucky!

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