The skinny on chocolate: Is it actually harmful for dogs?

It’s the theobromine in chocolate that is toxic for dogs, writes veterinarian Julianne Miller, and theobromine levels vary depending on the type of chocolate. Even if an animal doesn’t ingest a toxic dose, Dr. Miller says chocolate can cause diarrhea, vomiting and pancreatitis, so any ingestion should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Also in this article, Dr. Miller explains the importance of vaccinating indoor cats. The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff)

Q: I have heard that chocolate is toxic for dogs, but my dog has gotten into chocolate before and has not had any problems. So I am curious to know if chocolate is actually harmful or not?

A: The simple answer to your question is yes, chocolate is toxic; however, it is the ingredient theobromine that is contained in chocolate that is toxic to dogs. The toxicity is based on the amount of theobromine that the animal ingests when compared to the animal’s weight. It also matters what type of chocolate is ingested because the amount of theobromine in chocolate varies.

Any dose of theobromine over 45 mg/kg is potentially toxic and possibly lethal for dogs and should be treated aggressively by your veterinarian.

As an example, milk chocolate contains 44-64 mg theobromine per ounce of chocolate — so an average sized 80-pound Lab would need to ingest approximately 30-50 ounces of milk chocolate for a toxic dose. That is almost 3 pounds of milk chocolate! However, unsweetened baking chocolate contains 450 mg theobromine per ounce of chocolate. That means that same 80-pound Lab would be at a toxic dose after only 3.5 ounces!

So, you can see that the weight of the animal and the type of chocolate determine the toxic dose. Even if your dog eats chocolate and does not ingest a toxic dose there are other serious consequences to eating the chocolate such as severe stomach and intestinal upset, pancreatitis, diarrhea, vomiting and more. Any ingestion of chocolate is bad for a dog; whether it eats a toxic dose, your dog could suffer some serious adverse reactions. Since even a small dose of theobromine is potentially toxic and possibly lethal for dogs, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately for advice.

57 Responses to “The skinny on chocolate: Is it actually harmful for dogs?”

  1. jeff says:

    q. will my dog die on his birthday? i have a 60 pound boxer who ate 7lbs of diabetic chocalate what are his chances

    • Contact the poison control center on our blog……or go to your emergency vet.

      • Gwynne says:

        My 9.5 lbs dog just ate 2 sqs of chocolet about 2oz . How can I get her to throw it up

        • Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 800.213.6688
          We do not give medical advice.

          • Connie says:

            I called this number and was presented with several sales pitches for various products. This stinks! I just want to find out how to help my dog! These sales pitches had NOTHING to do with dogs. You need to remove this number!

          • There is no number in the post, so we do not know what you are referring to

          • BVISCHE says:

            Excuse me???? There’s NO number in the post & you don’t know what the person is referring to???Did you bother reading the post right above that states it is from the Animal Health Foundation–it CLEARLY states “Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 800.213.6688” I believe that is a number within the post. duh.

          • Brian says:

            The number actually is

          • Brian says:

            Sorry typo 855-213-6680

        • mb says:

          Poison control will tell you in order to induce vomiting give Hydrogen Peroxide, I believe it is 1/2g/lb of body weight. Thus, a 100lb dog will need 100g or roughly 3oz. Double check with poison control. I did it for my dog and it worked! Again, double check the amounts!

          • mb says:

            ******correction, 50g or 1.5oz*****

          • mb says:

            “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.”

            1tablespoon = ~14g or 14ml 1oz ~28oz or roughly .6g/lb of body weight

          • mb says:

            I can’t type today

            1oz ~28g
            50 = ~1.8oz

            20lb dog will get 1tablespoon (from the utensil drawer is fine)
            lab/german shepard, weimereiner etc in the 80-100lb range would be 4-5 tablespoons
            great dane, st Bernard, mastiff, etc in the 120-200lb range would be 6-10 tablespoons (1tbsp/20lb)

  2. laila says:

    i have given dogs chocolate before and they were perfectly fine and i am pretty sure i gave more than i should have

  3. Amber says:

    I accidentally left out my sons chocolate birthday cake that was chocolate with chocolate filling and was wrapped in fondant out where our English Lab could reach it and he ate it while we were at work yesterday. The cake was probably about 4inches wide by 3 inches tall (the piece that was left really). He did go to the bathroom twice yesterday after we got home and it was not diarrhea it was normal. Should I still get him into the vet or just closely monitor him for a while?

  4. Heather says:

    My kids left out their Valentine’s they were making which had Hershey’s kisses on them and German Shepherd got to them. She ate about 25 kisses. Thoughts?

  5. Kelly says:

    Hello! We have a 21 pound pug (2 years old) who got into a dark chocolate valentines heart. She ate about 1/4 of it. I called the vet who said to watch her but not sure if that’s all I should be doing. She has thrown up but nothing else (yet). Any suggestions. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous says:

    if my dog only licked a tiny bit of chocolate, is it bad?

  7. Karla O. says:


    I have heard that white chocolate is not bad for dogs, can you tell me if this is true? my rat terrier loves the smell of it and always wants to lick it or eat it. thank you.

    • No chocolate is OK for dogs. White or otherwise. Find treats in a pet store with carob that is especially made for pets.

      • spookiewon says:

        Since white chocolate contains no chocolate nor cocoa, and no theobromine, what, exactly, would be harmful to the dog in white chocolate?

    • right idea says:

      Regardless of what the poster said, yes white chocolate is perfectly safe for dogs. Even a terrier would have to eat so many pounds of the stuff you’d be concerned about sugar long before toxins.

  8. Trixie's Mom says:

    Please don’t think that any chocolate is OK. My 9 year old golden retriever died two weeks ago from eating milk chocolate from Easter. My three teenage/young adult children found her. The doctor said that she probably had an underlying condition that we weren’t aware of. We miss her so much. Please don’t take the chance!

  9. concerned dog lover says:

    We have a 6lb chihuahua. I was in a rush the other day to take my daughter to her pre-k screening and had told her to throw the rest of her chocolate poptart in the trash, but she apparently didn’t listen to me. When we got home, I discovered our 6lb chihuahua had eaten about half of the poptart. this was about 4 days ago.I called the vet and they said to watch her for being jittery, diarrhea, and vomitting, but they didn’t tell me when she should be in the safe zone so I can stop worrying with every move she makes.

  10. Shari says:

    My 105 pound golden retriever/Pyrnees just ate about 7 chocolate brownies. Suggestions?

  11. penelope says:

    I have made cupcakes using 1/4 of a cup of cocoa powder. She ate four of the chocolate cupcakes. She ate them roughly twenty minutes ago. She isn’t throwing up and I have her eating food and water. She is a 50 pound pit bull puppy. What should I do?

  12. nayeli says:

    My 3 pound Chihuahua just ate a little piece of candy covered in chocolate she seems fine right now but I’m still worried.?

  13. jfhtuygb says:

    My 3 pound yorkie ate a tiny crumb of a brownie should I be worried?

  14. edgar says:

    my dog at like a ball of nut with chocolate should I be worried ? it was small

  15. Jane says:

    my dog licked a little bit of Hershey syrup on the floor (size of a quarter) will it hurt my dog? im worried if she will die.

  16. erik says:

    my dog is depressed and he wont eat or do anything im worried plz help

  17. Jose says:

    So I have a 30 pound cocker spaniel, about 7 months old and he just ate about some of a poptart, one of those chocolate fudge poptarts, he seems fine for now and I’ve been told that it’s nothing to worry about but regardless what should I do

  18. Stefani says:

    We recently got a puppy and my son wanted to know ‘why” chocolate was bad. Hes 10 so he needed details. Your post was very informative, Lol thanks for the information!! Also It is strange to me, how many people rather comment on a blog than just call their vet. A blog poster can’t diagnoses their dog! Lol

  19. Edward says:

    Our 5 lb Maltese (male, 15 Years old) ate a hand full of M&M’s at midnight and by noon he was dead.

  20. cathy says:

    I have vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and cool whip for my treat …I let my 7 pound long hair chi chi lick the bowl after I have scraped most of the chocolate out.. she seems to lik it and there is no illness afterwards. I am nervous about even that tiny amount so I am going to stop now that I have read this site.

  21. Mike Samuel smith says:

    Just gave my chiwawa two pieces of a donut is that bad?

  22. Thanks for sharing such great post about dogs. The social adaptations of pets and humans are similar enough that dogs can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa. Cats are pampered with the best of food and medical care, frequently have a rest in their owners’ comfortable sofa.

  23. […] say it is the methylxanthines (which are also found in coffee and caffeine). On the other hand, the Animal Health Foundation says it is theobromine. What vets do agree on is that ratio of amount eaten to the dog’s body […]

  24. […] not allow your furry friend to eat chocolate – it can cause many life-threatening […]

  25. Joe says:

    My rat terrier got into a chocolate protien bar(extra large) and ate the whole thing. What should I do?

  26. Bill says:

    We think our 45 pound dog ate about 4 ounces of Hershey kisses with almonds

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