What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Credits: akc.org Key Points Chocolate is toxic to dogs and could cause a medical emergency. Signs of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 6 to 12 hours. Knowing how much and what kind of chocolate your dog ate is key. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and depending on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the weight of your dog, it could cause a serious medical emergency. If you know your dog has eaten chocolate, it’s important to monitor him for signs of toxicity (see below), and it’s recommended that you contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680, fee applies) for advice.

Learn how much is too much, which types of chocolate are the most dangerous, and what signs to look for that may signal your dog needs treatment.

Why Chocolate Is Toxic to Dogs

Chocolate contains both theobromine and caffeine, both of which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system of dogs, the Merck/Merial Manual for Veterinary Health explains. The risk of your dog becoming sick from ingesting chocolate depends on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the weight of the dog (calculate your dog’s risk of toxicity with this easy-to-use program). The concentrations of these toxic substances vary among different types of chocolates. Here are a few types of chocolate listed in order of theobromine content:

Cocoa powder (most toxic) Unsweetened baker’s chocolate Semisweet chocolate Dark chocolate Milk chocolate Knowing how much and what kind of chocolate your dog ate can help you and your vet determine if you have an emergency. In general, mild symptoms of chocolate toxicity occur when a dog consumes 20 mg of methylxanthines per kilogram of body weight. Cardiac symptoms of chocolate toxicity occur around 40 to 50 mg/kg, and seizures occur at dosages greater than 60 mg/kg.

In simpler terms, that means a very concerning dose of chocolate is approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight. Since an average Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar is 1.55 ounces, consuming even one chocolate bar can have serious consequences, especially for small dogs. Eating a crumb of chocolate cake or a very small piece of a chocolate bar, on the other hand, probably won’t kill your dog, especially if it is a larger breed, but chocolate should never be fed as a treat.