Is Chocolate Safe for Dogs to Eat

Dog owners are often told not to feed chocolate to their dogs because it is toxic. Many owners will disregard this advice because they have fed chocolate to their dog in the past and the dog is still alive and well. So what is the truth about chocolate and its toxicity to dogs? Is chocolate safe for dogs to eat, or not?

Many times dogs will be brought into the veterinarian and owners will cry “But when ever we gave him chocolate in the past he never had problems“.  As a concerned dog owner you need to avoid being one of those people.

The ingredient in chocolate that causes the problems for dogs is theobromine it comes from cocoa. Different types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine; with cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and unsweetened bakers chocolate, having higher amounts than some chocolate candies and milk chocolate.  The risk factor for dogs is high because most have a sweet tooth and enjoy snacks.  Dogs have good noses and will track down food they want, and will help themselves to it.  Dogs often eat things they should not.

Theobromine is not just a problem for dogs. Cats are even more sensitive to theobromine, but less likely to eat it.

Caffeine is also present in chocolate and can be fatal to dogs as well, but is not the main concern in chocolate specifically.

Macadamia Nuts in chocolate are also toxic for dogs.

A dog might be fed a chocolate here or there with no problems, but if they eat a whole box, or happen to eat a type of chocolate with a lot of theobromine, there could be problems, even fatal ones.

Image via Wikipedia

How Much Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs

Remember that it is not specifically how much chocolate; but rather how much theobromine the chocolate contains. With that in mind, according to Merrick Veterinary Manual; .5oz (11 gram) of bakers chocolate would be enough to cause serious problems for a 22 pound (9 kg) dog.

Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms may take several hours to appear and may even still occur 3 days after eating chocolate.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Urination
  • Seizures
  • Heart Attacks
  • Death

What to Do if you Suspect your Dog Ate Chocolate

Call your veterinarian. If it has been less than 2 hours since the dog ate chocolate you may be advised to induce vomiting, and to bring the dog to the veterinarian. After 2 hours take the dog to the veterinarian straight away.  Note that veterinarians do have after hours emergency services – this is not a “wait and see” thing – note how much chocolate your dog ate, and call the vet!

To induce vomiting in a dog you should give the dog 3 percent hydrogen peroxide at the rate of 1.5 cc per 10 pounds (4.5kgs) of dog. The dog should vomit within 10 minutes.

Getting the dog to the veterinarian immediately is also important and should not be delayed.

Safer Alternatives to Chocolate

To be safe, dogs should not be given any kind of chocolate, however they can have carob which tastes a lot like chocolate and is safe for them. Some dog owners who like chocolate have switched to eating carob to satisfy their sweet tooth rather than having chocolate where their dog might find it.

Peanut butter is also a good, safe alternative to chocolate.

Caution

Special caution should be taken at times of the year when chocolate is often left out in the open where a dog could get it; Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

Please share this with your dog owning friends who many not be aware of the risks.

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User Comments
  1. somiasom

    On January 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    OMG. chocolates are very harmful for dogs.Good post. Thanks for share. i liked it :)

  2. LoveDoctor

    On January 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Good information. I’ve read that chocolate is harmful for dogs. Thank you for spreading awareness. My dog only eats fruits, whole grain cereal for breakfast and dry dog food.

  3. PaulB

    On January 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I do not feel mean any more. Safety first!

  4. Val Mills

    On January 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Oh my, you’ve reminded me of our long departed golden labrador. We had to quickly learn to keep anything edible not only out of sight but well above her reach. She died of cancer aged 12. Thanks Brenda, I feel a story coming on.

  5. Karen Gross

    On January 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Good information. Our dog is always sniffing around the kitchen floor and under the table for crumbs, so I try to be vigilant about any chocolate dropped. Very sage advice to be extra careful around the holidays.One thing I don’t agree with you on is that carob tastes like chocolate – yuck! Unless they are processing carob differently these days and have found some way to make it palatable.

  6. dazzlejazz

    On January 22, 2012 at 4:53 am

    It’s amazing how many dog owners are not aware of this!
    My dogs don’t stand a chance – chocolate is NEVER left hanging around in our house :)

  7. dazzlejazz

    On January 22, 2012 at 4:55 am

    …Oh, and Brenda, you should post a warning for chocoholics before posting a photo like that on your article ;)

  8. Ruby Hawk

    On January 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    It sounds best to keep your dog away from chocolate entirely just to be on the safe side.

  9. PR Mace

    On January 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for the good information. I know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. I think all dogs are different. Kole once stole one chocolate kiss wrapping and all, we were lucky and he didn’t have an problems.

  10. papaleng

    On January 28, 2012 at 1:17 am

    A must for dogs owner to know. BTW Brenda, I have this silly question if you would not mind giving some enlightenment, Is Coke (softdrink) which we know contain caffeine also bad for the dog to drink? My neighbor who happens to known a Pug, bragged that he let his dog sip some Coke?

  11. A Bromley

    On February 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Really great article. You have written a well informed piece and something every pet owner should know. Thanks. Adding you as a friend. Hope you will read me too.

  12. Stable

    On February 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for this, it’s a question I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions. Very good advice.

  13. debasishetc

    On March 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    This information is totally new for me…i did not have idea that people can write so much about pets..You are really a big pet lover.

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