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Published: Mar 06, 2024 4 min read

Ingesting chocolate, though not always a cause for alarm, could be very harmful to dogs if done in big quantities. In order to keep their furry friends safe, dog owners should know how to identify the signs and what to do if their dog eats chocolate. Read on to learn more about chocolate poisoning and its symptoms as well as how your vet might treat it.

Why can’t dogs eat chocolate?

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two substances known as methylxanthines, which are toxic to dogs. Dogs are especially sensitive to these substances, as they cannot metabolize them like we can.

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How much chocolate can poison your dog?

Whether or not a dog gets chocolate poisoning will depend on the type of chocolate, how much of it they ate and the dog’s weight. Not all types of chocolate have the same amounts of theobromine or caffeine, which is what makes certain chocolate products more dangerous than others.

For example, a milk chocolate bar will not have the same methylxanthine concentration as cocoa beans. And when it comes to chocolate poisoning, darker and unsweetened chocolate is what’s most toxic to dogs. Below we list some cacao-derived products you might want to keep away from your dog:

  • Cocoa beans
  • Dry cocoa powder
  • Baking chocolate (also known as baker’s chocolate)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Dark semi-sweet chocolate
  • White chocolate

Many veterinary clinics and licensed veterinarians feature chocolate toxicity calculators to help owners determine whether they need to rush to the vet or not and what type of symptoms to look for.

Signs your dog has chocolate poisoning

If a dog eats an amount of chocolate that’s toxic (meaning that it contains high levels of theobromine and/or caffeine), they will start showing signs within six to twelve hours. Owners need to keep an eye on them so that they can take them to a veterinarian as soon as they start displaying symptoms. Small dogs might experience symptoms earlier than big dogs.

Common clinical symptoms of chocolate poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • High body temperatures
  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tremors

With severe cases of chocolate toxicity, dogs may present more serious symptoms such as collapsing, seizures, cardiac failure, central nervous system failure and others if not treated on time.

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How much chocolate can kill a dog FAQs

Will a small piece of chocolate harm my dog?

A one-time occurrence of chocolate ingestion might not necessarily be harmful or life-threatening to your dog. It will depend on the kind of chocolate and amount they ingested, as well as their body weight. Small amounts of chocolate will likely not affect your pet’s health, but we recommend consulting with a vet to make sure.

How soon do chocolate poisoning symptoms show up?

If your dog ate a toxic dose of chocolate, symptoms should start to show between six to twelve hours after ingestion.

What should I do if my dog ate chocolate?


If your dog ingested an alarming amount of chocolate and starts showing clinical signs of chocolate toxicity, you should visit an emergency vet or animal hospital immediately. Treatments may include inducing vomiting, administering intravenous fluids to help flush out the toxins, and others.

You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline, a 24-hour animal poison control center that offers emergency services to assist owners when their pets have been poisoned. Their phone number is (855) 764-7661.

Summary of Money’s guide on how much chocolate can kill your dog

  • What makes chocolate harmful to dogs is its theobromine and caffeine content.
  • Different types of chocolate products contain different concentrations of theobromine and caffeine.
  • Signs of chocolate poisoning range from mild symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea to more severe ones like heart and central nervous system failure.
  • Owners should take their dogs to the vet immediately after they start showing signs of chocolate poisoning.
  • Resources like the Pet Poison Helpline can also help owners manage chocolate toxicity.

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