It’s In Your Kitchen Right Now…And It’s Fatal For Your Pup!

Does chocolate kill dogs? In this blog, learn all about chocolate toxicity in dogs, why this tasty human treat can be so fatal for our furry friends, and what to do if your dog eats chocolate…

Oct 18, 2023·8 min read
It’s In Your Kitchen Right Now…And It’s Fatal For Your Pup!

Knowing your actions could be the reason your pup is being rushed to puppy hospital isn’t a nice thought! As a doggy owner, you should be aware of what is and isn’t good for your pet (we hope), but sometimes, our furry friends get a little mischievous, and end up in places they shouldn’t… And eating things they shouldn’t!

With various holidays throughout the year, these notoriously bring with them a large number of sweet candies – including chocolate!

We have all heard about how toxic it can be, but do we know why? Even though you may have found your dog on more than one occasion demolishing a box of truffles and having no reaction, this doesn’t mean that chocolate is okay for dogs – it just means you were lucky.

It does, however, depend on the quantity of the chocolate consumed, the type of chocolate, and the size of your dog. For example, if you have a Great Dane, they could eat a little bit of milk chocolate and possibly be okay… Whereas a smaller dog, like a Yorkshire Terrier, could eat the same and end up being very poorly! This is why keeping chocolate away from your dog is better than risking it – no matter how much they beg.

So, let’s discover more about chocolate toxicity in dogs and why it can be so fatal for them…

Does Chocolate Kill Dogs?

a pair of older, freckly white hands hold a handful of cocoa beans

Although we humans love the odd bit of chocolate; either to make us feel a bit better or just for a little indulgence, your dog could be seriously ill if they were to ingest it. This is due to what chocolate is made from – cocoa. Cocoa comes from a pod that grows on a cocoa tree, normally found along the equator belt. This plant is called Theobroma, which contains theobromine… something we humans find delicious, but for your pup, it is incredibly toxic.

It can be quite a misconception, but ALL types of chocolate contain theobromine. The level of the substance may vary from dark to white chocolate, but it will be there, regardless. So, for some dogs, even the smallest bit of this toxic substance could be fatal…

White Chocolate

That naughty little bar of white chocolate hiding in your candy box might be an exciting idea for you, but it is also a very attractive snack for your dog. White chocolate is mainly made from cocoa butter, rather than just cocoa. This is normally to get the lighter, creamier consistency, compared to milk and dark chocolate. As there is always theobromine found in cocoa, the quantity in the chocolate will be a lot lower… But, it’s still nonetheless and can also cause chocolate toxicity in dogs.

Milk Chocolate

You guessed it… Milk chocolate has more cocoa in it than white chocolate, meaning it has a higher quantity of dog-toxic theobromine. Of course, it also contains milk and cocoa butter, which can dilute the theobromine, but that doesn’t mean it is safe for your dog to eat. If your dog is bigger than average, the one-off accidental chocolate is unlikely to cause a problem, but is it worth the risk?

A lot of milk chocolate bars vary in their cocoa content, so you need to make sure that, regardless, you keep an eye on your pooch and do whatever you can to keep your pup away from the candy bars.

Dark Chocolate

The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine. So dark, bittersweet chocolate will normally contain between 40% – 100% cocoa solids, meaning A LOT of toxic theobromine. Milk isn’t normally added to bittersweet chocolate, instead, cocoa butter is used to get the creamy consistency. With all that extra cocoa content, the risk of causing chocolate toxicity in your dog is extremely high.

Cocoa Powder

This is the most toxic form of chocolate for your pooch! Cocoa powder is as raw as you can get when it comes to chocolate. You may use it when you make the odd cake or sprinkle it into a coffee or hot cocoa. If you have cocoa powder in your house, you need to be extra careful with it around your dog as this is the most likely form to cause chocolate toxicity in dogs. Keep it in a high, hard-to-reach cupboard.

PetLab Co. Pro Tip: ALWAYS keep in mind that all chocolate could be fatal for your dog.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chocolate Poisoning In Dogs?

a fox-like brown cross breed curls up in a light blue bed looking curious

Signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning can start to show between 6 – 12 hours after your dog has eaten it, although some dogs have been known to start to show symptoms up to 72 hours later! That’s a big window of time between consumption and the symptoms beginning to show.

Your pup may start to suffer from the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Increased urination

If you notice your dog showing any of these symptoms after they have eaten chocolate, you need to take action immediately. Sadly, the older your dog, the lower the chance of surviving chocolate poising will be.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

a black and white pug sniffs a bowl of biscuits on a white coffee table

Regardless of the amount of chocolate your dog has eaten, it is a good idea to contact a vet as soon as possible. Even if your dog has eaten chocolate before, your dog might not be so lucky this time. It might seem over precautious, but it is better to get them seen straight away, rather than when it’s too late.

Take any wrappers that may have been left over with you to the vet. This can be a strong indication to how much chocolate your pup may have eaten. The more your vet knows, the easier it will be for them to help.

Your vet will be able to assess the situation and may send you back home to keep a close eye on your pup. Each case is different, so your vet will make sure that they do what is needed.

How To Avoid Chocolate Toxicity In Dogs

a black and white collie dog with deep amber eyes and open, smiling mouth looks up to the camera lens

You might think that keeping your favorite chocolate bar in the cupboard is completely safe, but sometimes your dog may become a bit of a scavenger. It’s in their nature. There are many, simple, effective ways you can make sure chocolate is away from your beloved pups; including keeping your snacks in a metal box with a latching lid, storing them in a high cupboard, or in a room that your dog can’t gain access to.

Unfortunately, as said above, you might not be aware that your dog has eaten chocolate, especially if their symptoms don’t show for 3 days! This is why you need to make sure you stay on top of where you keep the chocolate in your house. Don’t leave it on the coffee table where it is easy for your pooch to reach. If you start eating a box of candy, with a few chocolates in it, make sure you keep it completely out of reach.

The best way to avoid your dog eating chocolate is to never let them get a taste for it. The sweet, creamy, tasty snack that we enjoy is just as appealing to dogs. Always keep it away from your pooch and do not give in to those puppy dog eyes (literally). You won’t be doing your dog any favors.

PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Avoid keeping their treats near your food. Your dog will know where their favorite nibbles are kept, so if you keep your chocolate in the same place, your dog won’t know the difference if they break into the snack cupboard. Keep your food and their food separate.

So, Can Chocolate Kill Dogs?

Yes! The risks of your dog becoming ill from eating chocolate are too high to ignore. If you know that they have eaten an amount, regardless of size, it is our advice to contact your vet as soon as possible.

Yes, if your dog is a larger breed, it should mean less to worry about when it comes to chocolate toxicity in dogs, but as their owner, it would be extremely sensible to act fast. The sooner you get your pup to the vet, the higher their chances of survival are! Keep chocolate away from your dog…that will stop them from consuming the toxic treat.

Becca TriggB

Becca Trigg

An all round animal lover, who absolutely adores writing and researching anything puppy! Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample pet knowledge; specifically joint health and dental hygiene. When I'm not typing away in the office, I can be found sitting in a country pub or growing chillies

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022
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