Yes, Chocolate Tastes Good, but it is Very Toxic to Dogs!

In a previous article I mentioned several foods and substances that are unsafe to allow your dog to eat. Dogs don’t always know what is not good for them. Some substances they instinctively know to stay away from because of the smell and or taste. However other foods and substances may actually taste good. This article will focus on chocolate, and why it is harmful to your dog.

The ingredient in chocolate, theobromine, is toxic to dogs. Many years ago, before I knew that chocolate was toxic to dogs, I occasionally shared my M & M’s with my Chow / Labrador Mix. My dog, Frisky, was none the worse for it, as far as I knew. I know now that I was fortunate that my dog did not ingest enough of the theobromine from the milk chocolate in the M & M’s to cause any real harm.

Milk chocolate has 44 mg of theobromine per ounce, and on average it would take between 100 to 150 mg of the toxic substance to be harmful; however, the toxic level can go up or down, depending on the dog’s sensitivity, and the size of the dog.

All chocolates are not equal.

Chocolates come in different forms. White chocolate, is not really chocolate, but it is made from cocoa butter, and it does contain 1 mg of theobromine per ounce. Sweet cocoa has about 20 mg of theobromine per ounce. Milk chocolate is the sweetest. It also has the least theobromine. I mentioned above that milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per ounce. Semi-sweet chocolate, also known as dark chocolate contains 150 mg per ounce, and baker’s chocolate contains a whopping 390 to 450 mg per ounce. You can see by the number of milligrams per ounce how much more concentrated the toxic substance is in each type of chocolate. If your dog walked off with a few of your M & M’s you might not have anything to worry about, but on the other hand, if your Lassie or Laddie ate an ounce or two of baker’s chocolate you may have a very sick or dying dog on your hands if you don’t do something about it fast.

If you are cooking with baker’s chocolate make sure that you cut off what you need for your recipe, and then put the rest away out of your dog’s reach. You might not think your dog could reach up on a kitchen counter, but it happens quite often if you should have a food item too close to the edge of the counter.

It isn’t just chocolate candy you need to worry about your dog ingesting. Chocolate ice cream, chocolate toppings, chocolate milk, chocolate flavored cereals have different quantities of theobromine. These products have less of the toxic compound than plain chocolate, but your dog could still have a bad reaction to it depending on the size of the dog and its sensitivity to the substance.

Chocolate tastes good; if it gets a taste of chocolate, your dog will crave it, and beg for it every time it sees you eating it. If you lay your chocolate down unattended your dog will be a dog and happily gobble it up. Puppies and small dogs are most susceptible the chemical in chocolate.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

If your dog has ingested enough chocolate to be toxic your dog may have increased urination; chocolate acts like a diuretic and will cause your dog’s kidneys to produce an excess amount of urine, which will lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. Chocolate toxicity will also cause gastrointestinal upsets, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. From the time of ingestion to the time of toxic symptoms will be within a 2 to 4 hour period. If your dog is vomiting, the stomach contents will be the color of chocolate. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate and it is exhibiting these signs get your dog to a veterinarian quickly, because your dog may begin to shut down if advance signs of chocolate toxicity begin to manifest.

Advanced signs of chocolate poisoning.

Your dog may experience muscle stiffness, and twitching from the loss of electrolytes, due to frequent urination. Your dog may become irritable; touch, light and sound may cause extreme discomfort. Your dog may have hallucinations from the toxicity affecting the brain. Cardiac arrhythmias, and seizures may develop, followed by coma. Death can occur within 12 to 36 hours of ingestion of toxic amounts of chocolate.

If you discover that your dog has eaten chocolate, your veterinarian may direct you to begin first aid right away to induce vomiting. Be sure to tell the vet if latent signs of toxicity are apparent, because you only should induce vomiting if your dog has not gone into seizure activity, cardiac arrhythmia, and other symptoms of advanced toxicity.

How to induce vomiting.

Your veterinarian may tell you to give your dog a small amount of vanilla ice cream mixed with a combination of salt and hydrogen peroxide. Only do this when directed your dog’s veterinarian, because you will need to know how much hydrogen peroxide and salt to mix in with the ice cream. The ice cream is the vehicle to disguise the taste, because your dog will not take the treatment to induce vomiting easily if the taste is not disguised.
When your dog vomits, save a sample of it and bring it to the veterinarian’s office with you so that the sample can be tested for the presence of the toxin. Be sure to remain calm while you are trying to get your dog to vomit. If you are excited you will pass the anxiety onto your dog.


As mentioned earlier in this article, the way to prevent theobromine toxicity is to keep your dog away from chocolate. You may be tempted to share just a small piece of your chocolate bar with your beloved pet, but do not do it under any circumstances, because your dog will love the taste and want more. Once your dog has tasted chocolate your dog might do anything to get it, including stealing your M&M’s, if by accident, you should leave them unattended in reach of your dog.


Ask the veterinarian:

Dr{{PERIOD}} Kevin’s Advice:


Written by CharleneCollins

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