The Truth About Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

Chocolate and the holidays seem to go together. Hot chocolate, chocolate cake, bon bons, etc, etc. Tasty, sweet, and smooth. Feels like it just melts on the tongue. It just seems to make you feel better, but chocolate is toxic to dogs and can kill them.

Chocolate contains two ingredients that are toxic to dogs. The first is theobromine (in the caffeine family) and theophylline (an asthma medication). The minimum toxic amount of theobromine for dogs is 45 – 65 mg/lb. One of the most important factors to toxicity is the amount of chocolate that the dog eats.

Different kinds of chocolate contain varying amounts of theobromine.

  • Milk chocolate contains around 44 mg of theobromine per ounce.
  • Semisweet chocolate around 150 mg per ounce.
  • And finally baking chocolate contains 390 mg per ounce.

For a twenty pound dog to reach toxic levels of chocolate, they would have to eat:

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate bar or
  • 20 ounces of milk chocolate

The signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Urinating more
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

What should you do if your dog eats some chocolate. The first step is to call your veterinarian. If your trip to the veterinarian will be delayed, induce vomiting in your dog by giving them syrup of ipecac. Do not give this to your dog without first talking to your veterinarian.

You should be prepared ahead of time. That means on the next visit ask about what you should do if your dog eats chocolate. Ask about how much syrup of ipecac your dog needs to induce vomiting.