How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog: Size vs. Chocolate Type

Everyone agrees chocolate toxicity can be lethal to dogs. But what amount of chocolate is cause for concern? 

Dog owners have always heard that dogs can die from eating chocolate. However, it is not the chocolate itself that causes problems for your pup. Rather it is one of the key ingredients, theobromine. But how much chocolate can kill a dog? It is not a simple answer. In fact, there are a couple of different factors that pet owners should be aware of.

How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog?

Your dog's body weight plays a huge factor in how much chocolate can kill a dog, along with the type of chocolate and the amount, since chocolate contains a methylxanthine called theobromine along with caffeine. Together, they speed up the heart rate and overstimulate the nervous system in dogs.

But not all chocolate is created equal. The most toxic type of chocolate is cocoa powder because it has the highest amount of theobromine. Other types of chocolate fall into the following order:

  • unsweetened bakers chocolate
  • semisweet chocolate
  • dark chocolate
  • milk chocolate
  • white chocolate

So if your pup consumes a small amount of cocoa powder, they are more likely to have an adverse reaction than if they eat large amounts of white chocolate. Even if white chocolate contains a concentration of cacao solids, it is less likely to lead to chocolate toxicity. But your pup may have a reaction due to the large amounts of milk and sugar in white chocolate.

For example, if your 45-pound dog eats 3 ounces of milk chocolate from a Hershey chocolate bar, they will not show any symptoms. However, if your small dog eats a small amount of chocolate, say one ounce of the same milk chocolate bar, they will likely exhibit mild symptoms of chocolate toxicity. Since toxicity depends on the kind of chocolate, a 45-pound dog and a 10-pound dog can both eat 3 ounces of baking chocolate and have a severe reaction and will need to see a vet immediately. Merck Veterinary Manual states that an ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight can be deadly for your dog.

In chocolates with higher toxicity levels, the dog's pound of body weight will matter less, and the amount of chocolate will matter more. Since it all depends on chocolate type vs. your dog's weight, it can be easier to use a chocolate toxicity calculator to determine how concerned you should be.

Denver veterinarian Kevin Fitzgerald said in an interview with WebMD that a 22-pound dog could die from ingesting 20 ounces of milk chocolate, 10 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, or 2.25 ounces of baking chocolate.

Signs & Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning 

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If your dog eats chocolate, the signs of chocolate poisoning will not occur right away. According to the American Kennel Club, it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 hours to see the adverse effects of ingestion. Signs that your dog has ingested toxic levels of chocolate are the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle tremors
  • ?Hyperactivity
  • ?Frequent urination
  • Seizures

Ultimately, severe chocolate poisoning can lead to death. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, but you do not know how much or exactly when, it is better just to take them to the vet for a check-up than to wait.

During the holidays that have a lot of chocolate and candy,  like Halloween, Easter, Christmas, and Valentine's Day, try to keep candy far away from your dog.

Has your dog ever gotten into your chocolate stash? Tell us about it on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

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