How Much Chocolate Can Kill a Dog? (Easy Guide)

Chocolate is a dangerous poison for the dog. A small molecule that this product contains, called theobromine, is the culprit. The risk for a dog that ingests cocoa is great since it can even die. This article describes why chocolate is a poison for the dog, how much cocoa is dangerous for the dog, and what to do in case of poisoning.

Can dogs eat chocolate?

No. Chocolate is dangerous for the dog. But why? The culprit is a small molecule that includes cocoa: theobromine. It is a substance similar to caffeine that is toxic to the dog and can even cause death if the poisoning is significant, according to a study on this substance.

The cacao tree generates substances during photosynthesis and other processes necessary for its metabolism. Theobromine is one of those molecules. In other words, it is not an artificial product added later to the chocolate for consumption, but it is generated by the vegetable itself.

But, if this substance is toxic for dogs, why is it not for humans? As on other occasions, the answer has to do with the obvious differences that exist between the metabolism of dogs and humans. Our bodies do not function the same nor do they work at the same rate.

While humans are capable of metabolizing theobromine in a more or less short time, the same does not happen in dogs. The dog’s body does not destroy this molecule fast enough. Therefore, for him, it is dangerous and can even be fatal.

Theobromine molecules remain an average of 17 and a half hours in the dog’s body, says veterinarian Sharon Gwaltney-Brant in her research on “Chocolate Poisoning,” published in the scientific journal ‘Veterinary Medicine’.

In severe cases, Gwaltney-Brant notes, theobromine can stay in the dog’s body for up to 72 hours. This long stay explains why it accumulates in the organs of the can. And, therefore, it is toxic.

According to the doctor, the caffeine in chocolate, meanwhile, is also harmful to the dog, but its concentration in cocoa products is usually lower.

Not all chocolates are the same

Dark cocoa, chocolate powder, chocolate bread, muffins, cakes, etc. All these products contain cocoa and therefore theobromine. However, this toxic substance for dogs is not present in all of them in the same concentration.

The amount of theobromine in chocolate depends on the quality and type of cocoa, explains the Veterinary Poison Information Service, a network of veterinarians specializing in treating poisonings in dogs and cats in the United Kingdom.

White chocolate contains almost no theobromine – just 0.01 milligrams for every gram of chocolate, according to the Gwaltney-Brant study. The concentration is somewhat higher in milk chocolate: 2 milligrams.

But, as the purity of the product increases, so does the amount of theobromine it contains, and the danger to the dog grows.

Thus, sweet dark chocolate contains 4.5 milligrams for each gram of product. Whereas dry cocoa powder includes more than 26 milligrams in every gram!

Chocolate poisoning in dogs is the third reason for urgent consultation of the Veterinary Poisoning Information Service (more than 8,645 consultations per year). The first position is for ibuprofen poisoning (11,500) and the second for rat-killing poisons accidentally ingested by dogs (10,300).

How much chocolate is dangerous for the dog?

Not all dogs are the same size. And it is your size that determines how much chocolate your body can accept without posing any real risk. In this way, a small dog supports less theobromine than a large one, and the risk of being poisoned by cocoa is, therefore, greater.

Therefore, a puppy under 1 kilo will have problems even if he ingests a small amount of white chocolate. On the other hand, an 11-12kg dog will experience his heartbeat racing with 20 grams of low-purity dark chocolate. However, 25 grams of chocolate may be enough to cause the death of the dog if the purity of the chocolate is high, experts say.

The bottom line is that the danger of chocolate to the dog increases as the purity of the cocoa increases. But, to avoid risks, the right thing to do is NEVER offer the animal chocolate, cakes, or cookies.

In the event that a dog accidentally ingests chocolate, a call to the vet is most appropriate. This professional will indicate if it is necessary to go to the consultation urgently to induce the dog to vomit or perform a gastric lavage when necessary.

How much chocolate can kill a small dog?

If your dog is both a small breed and a large breed dog but it is still a puppy (therefore, it weighs less, it will be enough for it to eat 8 grams of chocolate to kill it.

How much chocolate can kill a large dog?

If your dog is an adult and of a large breed that can weigh about 20 kilos, it could be poisoned with 25 grams of chocolate and cause death if you do not act quickly.

How much chocolate can kill a dog chart?

Chocolate TypeTheobromine QuantityLethal Amount for Dogs
White chocolate0.01 mg28 to 57 grams per kilo of a dog’s weight.
Milk chocolate2.4 mg28 grams per kilo of a dog’s weight.
Dark chocolate5.5 mgLess than 28 grams of a dog’s weight
Backing chocolate (cakes,
cookies, etc)
16 mg28 grams per kilo of a dog’s weight.
Sweet cacao60 mg8.5 grams per kilo of a dog’s weight.

What if my dog eats chocolate?

But in case of the ingestion of a minimum amount of chocolates in a large dog, if the animal is not treated after 6 to 12 hours, the dog may begin to manifest symptoms such as hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, frequent urination, and panting. . This symptomatology can persist even up to 72 hours after the consumption of chocolate.

The most serious cases of intoxication occur when the amount is excessive, above 25 grams of chocolate in a dog weighing 20 kilos, in this case, the animal will begin to manifest symptoms such as seizures, muscle tremors, hypertension, increased body temperature, internal bleeding, tachycardia, mucous membrane change (which will appear pale and even blue), changes in heart rate, coma and even death from heart or respiratory failure.

Before the presentation of any serious symptoms, with a history of chocolate consumption, it is important to go to the veterinarian because it is a vital emergency.

What do I do if my dog ate chocolate?

If you saw your dog eating chocolate or if you suspect that he has found a piece of chocolate in your bag, you have to act fast and make him vomit as soon as possible.

The most important recommendation is not to self-medicate the pet or do maneuvers at home that have not been suggested as a first-aid measure by a veterinary professional.

These home treatments can aggravate the condition of the animal. If you suspect that your dog is consuming chocolate, do not wait for the first symptoms to appear, but go to the doctor as soon as possible to avoid later complications or late treatments.

If the ingestion has been recent (less than 2 hours), vomiting can be induced to eliminate as much as possible any trace of chocolate that has not been digested. For this, there are several methods such as:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: The same that is used for human use. For this, the calculation of 2 milliliters (or cubic centimeters) is made for each kilogram of the animal’s weight and, later, it must be mixed with water in equal parts.

This is administered with the help of a needleless syringe directly into the animal’s mouth. It is important not to do it more than two times, with an interval of 10 to 15 minutes, since hydrogen peroxide can be highly irritating to the dog’s digestive system.

  • Activated charcoal: This is the last emergency resort to treat chocolate poisoning in dogs since, although it helps to absorb the toxic components and prevent them from reaching the animal’s blood, it can cause diarrhea, and dehydration, if not administrated properly.

Due to this, it should always be administered under the recommendation and supervision of the veterinarian.

Definitely do not use salt, mineral or cooking oil, milk, or other items that you can find at home to induce vomiting. Take him to the vet as the animal may require emergency treatments.

Veterinary treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs

If you do not dare to make your dog vomit, take him to the nearest vet, you should not waste time. The veterinarian will proceed to carry out a cardiac and temperature check, will check the pressure of the animal, the color of its mucous membranes, etc. to corroborate the typical symptoms of poisoning. Generally, if so (and as long as you, as the owner, confirm that you have seen the dog consume chocolate), the stomach will be emptied.

The vet will place IV fluid to help hydrate and detoxify the dog. In some cases, a nasogastric tube is placed to clean the stomach, etc. But do not worry, your dog will be in good hands.

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