How Much Chocolate Can Kill a Dog?

You may have heard that chocolates are bad for dogs, yet how much chocolate can kill a dog? In this article, I’m sharing all the necessary information about chocolate toxicity for dogs, including symptoms, effects, treatment, and prevention, to ensure your pet’s well-being.

How Much Chocolate Can Kill a Dog?

While this depends on the type of chocolate, it can take only 0.3 ounces of concentrated chocolate per pound of body weight to kill a dog. Milder types of chocolates vary from 0.5 to 2 ounces. This is because chocolates contain theobromine, which is a lethal chemical for dogs.

As a pet owner, you need to know how to protect your dog from such harm. So let’s start by understanding how a sweet treat can be fatal to dogs.

Reasons Why Chocolates Can Kill Dogs 

Dogs can’t metabolize theobromine in the same way as humans, making them highly susceptible to the chemical. In some cases, consuming 1 to 2 ounces of chocolate can kill dogs, while other kinds of chocolate only take 0.3 ounces to become deadly.

When dogs can’t break up theobromine quickly, the chemical will enter the bloodstream to speed up heart rate and attack the nervous system. This is particularly applicable for small dogs who eat large amounts of chocolate.

Dog being fed a piece of chocolate

Kinds of Chocolate That Can Kill a Dog

One of the first things you need to know a chocolate’s toxicity level. Keep in mind that chocolates with more cocoa solids have higher theobromine content.

  • White chocolate: White chocolate has the least amount of cocoa, which is why it would take about 2 ounces before it can kill dogs.
  • Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate is deadlier than white chocolate because of its concentrated theobromine content, making a milk chocolate candy bar lethal for 10-pound dogs.
  • Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains a high amount of theobromine, which means even an ounce of dark chocolate can kill a dog.
  • Baking chocolate: Almost similar to cacao powder, baking chocolate contains high levels of theobromine, making it an aggressive stimulant for dogs.
  • Cacao powder: Pure cacao powder is the deadliest because it has the highest theobromine content at 60 mg. Even 1/3 pound of pure cacao can kill a 20-pound dog.

However, keep in mind that chocolate isn’t the sole factor. Death from chocolate intoxication also depends on your dog’s weight and the amount of chocolate consumed. See this table to compare how the type of chocolate can kill your dog.

Type of ChocolateTheobromine ContentLethal Amount for Dogs
White Chocolate0.01 mg1 to 2 ounces per pound of a dog’s weight
Milk Chocolate2.4 mg1 ounce per pound of a dog’s weight
Dark Chocolate5.5 mg Less than an ounce of a dog’s weight
Cooking or Baking Chocolate16 mg1 ounce per pound of a dog’s weight
Sweet Cacao60 mg0.3 ounces per pound of a dog’s weight 

Chocolate Poisoning Signs and Symptoms

Dogs that consume a small amount of chocolate may be able to filter out the toxins. However, there are times when chocolate would have adverse effects on a dog’s body.

Consuming too much chocolate is like drinking coffee for them, so expect symptoms relating to behavior, breathing, and digestion. These symptoms typically happen within 1 to 12 hours of chocolate consumption.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Rapid panting
  • Twitching and muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • High body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Unsteadiness on feet
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Increased urination
  • Collapse

Senior dogs, especially those with heart conditions, are at greater risk of collapsing. Hence, it’s possible that a chocolate’s effect may trigger underlying medical conditions. However, the mortality rate is less than 3% as long as you control and alleviate these symptoms.

What to Do When Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Call your Veterinarian as soon as possible. Have the package from the chocolate, and how much was possibly injested to help the vet to determine the type & severity.

Dog feeling unwell after eating chocolate

Tips on Keeping Dogs Safe From Chocolate Toxicity

Even though small amounts of chocolate may not kill your dog right away, it’s still better to prevent your pet from consuming it. Fortunately, there are simple tips to do this.

  • Store your sweets properly: A big part of keeping dogs safe lies in your responsibility as a pet owner. Make sure to stash your chocolates in sealed containers and place them in cabinets or pantry areas beyond your dog’s reach.
  • Be vigilant during occasions: Occasions like Easter and Christmas are high-risk times for dogs to eat chocolates. In fact, there’s been a 235% increase in chocolate poisoning in dogs during a 4-week Easter period. Make sure to keep away chocolate mixes and boxes out of your pet’s reach.
  • Do obedient training: You can use the ‘leave it’ command if you’re far away from your dog, yet you can see that it’s attempting to eat chocolate. In this way, your pet would know to stop.

Related Questions

How Do I Stop My Dog from Begging for Treats?

Setting proper mealtimes can help stop your dog from begging for treats or trying to get chocolates. This also means choosing the right dog food or treats that can satisfy your pet right away.

What Are Natural Treats for Dogs?

Dogs can still eat human food, especially those that don’t contain theobromine. You can give your pet some natural treats such as apples, broccoli, carrots, watermelon, cooked sweet potatoes, and bananas. Just make sure to remove seeds, cores, and pits.

Conclusion

Different kinds of chocolate have varying effects on dogs. Nevertheless, it may take about 0.3 to 2 ounces per pound of weight for chocolate to kill a dog. Make sure to monitor your pet for chocolate poisoning symptoms, so you’ll know how to best respond to it.

Categories Dog

Doctor Joe Alcorn received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1981, and founded Care Animal Hospital in 1991 in Temecula, California. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.