Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?

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6 min read
6 min read

Updated - Apr 7th, 2023

Key Points:

  • No, dogs should not eat chocolate as it contains theobromine, which is toxic to them.
  • Despite potential health benefits in humans, chocolate poses serious risks to dogs.
  • It’s not about preference, as chocolate is harmful irrespective of a dog’s liking.
  • Dogs should avoid all types of chocolate and products containing it.
  • Even small amounts of chocolate can be harmful or fatal for dogs.

Chocolate is one of the world’s most popular sweet treats – so as a pet parent, it’s only natural to wonder: can dogs eat chocolate, too? 

Is chocolate safe for dogs to eat?

No! Dogs can’t eat chocolate because it contains toxic ingredients that can lead to chocolate poisoning. It’s important to keep an eye out when your dog is around anything containing chocolate – and to take immediate action if you suspect your dog has ingested any of this sweet treat.

Chocolate contains two ingredients that are dangerous to dogs: caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine and theobromine are safe for humans to eat, but a dog’s body can’t absorb and process them. 

  • Caffeine is a strong stimulant that’s also found in coffee and energy drinks. It stimulates the brain and central nervous system. Human bodies can handle large amounts of caffeine – even if it causes some caffeine jitters – but dogs will struggle with even a small amount. Caffeine can negatively impact your dog’s nervous system and heart rate. They may also lose muscle control and have seizures or tremors.
  • Theobromine can be potentially lethal for pups. It affects their nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system. It also has a diuretic effect – meaning it increases loss of water and salt in the body – and can quickly bring on theobromine poisoning in severe cases. This can result in vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea. 

What types of chocolate are toxic for dogs?

Almost all types of chocolate are toxic for dogs. The least toxic type is white chocolate, but this still poses a risk. The most toxic types are cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate. These types contain the highest amount of theobromine – even tiny amounts of them may be bad for your dog. This means it’s a huge no-no to give your dog a taste of any desserts containing these types of chocolate, including cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, puddings, ice creams, breakfast bars, brownies, and pastries. 

How much chocolate can dogs eat? 

The seriousness of chocolate poisoning in dogs depends on the amount consumed relative to your dog’s body weight. A trace amount of chocolate is not usually cause for concern – for example, if your dog licks a chocolate cake crumb or eats one semi-sweet chocolate morsel, they should be okay. 

It’s still wise to be extra careful, though. Factors like the weight of your dog can affect the risk level your pooch faces. While one chocolate chip may be nothing to a large dog, it can cause big issues for a small dog. It’s best to avoid chocolate altogether and be as safe as you can – even a small amount of chocolate may pose a risk to your pet’s health. 

Preparation do’s and don’ts

As we’ve said above, any kind of chocolate consumed by humans is off limits for dogs. But there’s some good news: specially-made doggy chocolate is safe for dogs! 

Doggy chocolate is made with carob powder and is an excellent alternative to chocolate. It tastes similar to chocolate but has none of the nasty ingredients pups should avoid.

Many pet stores will sell doggy chocolate treats made with carob, which are great options to safely satisfy your dog’s cravings. No matter where you get them, it’s always best to check the ingredients list and ask your veterinarian if you’re unsure whether something is suitable for your pup. 

The final word on dogs and chocolate

Remember: any amount of chocolate can be dangerous or potentially life-threatening to your dog. Be vigilant when chocolate is around, and act quickly if you notice something isn’t right.

Can dogs eat chocolate FAQs

What should I do if my dog eats chocolate

If you know or suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, seek help immediately. Take them to your nearest emergency vet or emergency veterinary hospital or call ASPCA animal poison control (which is open 24/7). They can help you determine what you need to do next. If your pet has ingested a toxic amount, they’ll need treatment as soon as possible. The faster you act; the better your pup’s outcome will likely be.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

If your dog gets chocolate poisoning, you need to act quickly – so you need to know what to look for. Here are some common symptoms of chocolate poisoning:

Remember, theobromine is absorbed by your dog slowly, so symptoms may not show up right away – they may appear up to 24 hours after ingestion. 

How is chocolate poisoning treated?

Treatment will depend on the amount of chocolate your dog ingested and how long it’s been since ingestion. A veterinarian will try to help by inducing vomiting and giving your dog activated charcoal to prevent further theobromine absorption. You should never try to make your dog throw up on your own.

In serious cases, a veterinarian may administer intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to deliver medication directly into your dog’s blood stream. Depending on symptoms, they may also give your dog heart medication. 

What other conditions can chocolate poisoning cause?

Because the average milk chocolate bar has a high fat content, pups who ingest chocolate may also be at risk of developing pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can cause symptoms like:

  • Diminished appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

The likelihood of pancreatitis may depend on your dog’s size and the different types of chocolate they ingested.

My dog ate chocolate. Is there a way of estimating how the amount they ate will affect their health?

While you should keep your dog away from all chocolate and go to a vet at any sign of chocolate poisoning, you can estimate the amount of danger with a chocolate toxicity calculator. This tool can offer some answers based on factors like the type of chocolate, the amount eaten, and your dog’s body weight. Vets use information like this to guide their decisions when a dog is brought in for chocolate poisoning.

If your dog is prone to ‘snack-cidents,’ consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. Pumpkin plans can help you afford the best care possible by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.

Toxic Foods for Dogs

Some ‌foods you should avoid feeding your dog because they are harmful to dogs. Learn more about:

  • Grapes (can lead to kidney failure)
  • Xylitol (found in certain candies and gums)


Emma Radmilovic

Emma Radmilovic

Emma is Pumpkin’s copywriter – she’s a dog & cat lover and never misses a chance to write a cheesy pet pun!
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