dog eating chocolate on kitchen counter

Any dog lover knows that the delicious milky goodness that humans adore so much is actually poisonous for dogs. It hardly seems fair that our darling little canine pals would be deprived of so delicious a treat.  So what makes chocolate dangerous for dogs?  Here is an at-a-glance look at the darker side of chocolate and the level of toxicity to be aware of in the most common cocoa-infused treats.

Why is chocolate so dangerous?

Chocolate has many fabulous ingredients that are irresistible to humans but are toxic for dogs. For example, the caffeine and theobromine (both known as methylaxanthines) in chocolate are very difficult for dogs to break down. Do all kinds of chocolate contain these ingredients?  Yes, but usually the darker the chocolate, the stronger the potency of these elements.  One helpful way to look at it is to consider that ½ a pound (or 8 oz.) of milk chocolate is enough to sicken a substantial dog of 50 lbs.  However, if the same dog were to eat only 1 measly ounce of dark chocolate, he would be equally as ill. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of methylaxanthines.

Common Household Ingredients to Avoid

Common Ingredients:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking chocolate (bar, or chips: semi-sweet, dark, and milk chocolate)
  • Chocolate pudding mix
  • Chocolate syrups
  • Chocolate candies
  • Chocolate frosting/decorating tubes, etc.

Common Products:
Note: In addition to the theobromine, the products below also contain varying levels of caffeine per serving.

  • Chocolate Bar (Hershey’s, Milky Way bars, or other similar brands) – roughly 35-64 mg of theobromine per serving
  • Peanut M&M -184 mg of theobromine
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup -64 mg of theobromine
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses – 61 mg of theobromine
  • Brownie Mix (most brands) -43 mg of theobromine
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies -20 mg of theobromine
  • Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauce (most brands) -77 mg of theobromine

Help! My dog ate some chocolate!

If your dog accidentally eats chocolate (be it candy bar, chocolate frosting, syrup, etc.) immediately contact the Pet Poison Helpline: 855-213-6680 for help and advice.

Should you suspect that your dog might have gotten in the chocolate, but you are unsure how much or if he actually ate any at all, keep your eyes open for the following symptoms. Signs of canine chocolate ingestion are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Rigid muscles