Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (2023)

Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (1)

Chocolate poisoning in dogs is every canine owner's worst nightmare. It’s also another thing you have to consider when puppy proofing your home. Keeping those chocolates you received for your birthday high up and out of sight from your dog is a very wise move. The best dog treats are pup-proofed and much more satisfying for our four legged pals.

While chocolate may be a tasty and fairly harmless treat for humans, it contains two substances that are toxic to dogs, caffeine and theobromine. These substances can have harmful effects on a dog’s nervous system, cardiovascular system, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. If consumed in high volumes, the two substances can even be fatal.

Understandably, concerned pet owners will have many questions surrounding chocolate poisoning in dogs such as why is it so harmful for canines, how much could make things fatal, and what are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning. We found out the answers to these and many more related queries from Dr Catherine Barnette, a Doctor of veterinary medicine with fifteen years of vet clinical experience behind her. Read on to learn more about this common canine health scare.

Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (2)

(Video) My dog has eaten chocolate! What to do if your dog ate chocolate

Dr. Barnette is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received both her B.S. in Zoology and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She has 15 years of clinical experience as a small animal veterinarian, treating dogs, cats, and occasional exotic patients. She now works as a freelance veterinary writer, creating educational content for veterinarians, veterinary team members, and dedicated pet owners.

Can dogs eat chocolate?

No matter how adorably they beg, it’s important to resist the temptation to give your dog chocolate. Depending on your dog’s size and the type of chocolate that you give (some are more toxic than others), even a very small amount of chocolate can be fatal.

Instead of giving your dog chocolate, which can be toxic, stick to feeding high-quality dog treats. These treats are specifically developed to be both safe and tasty for dogs.

If you want to give your dog small amounts of human food, avoid chocolate and stick to human foods that are safe for dogs. Using appropriate treats can help you bond with your dog in a way that is safe for them.

Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (3)

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Chocolate contains two ingredients that are toxic to dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances are chemically similar, and collectively referred to as methylxanthines.

When a dog eats chocolate, caffeine and theobromine are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and enter the bloodstream. When distributed throughout the body, these methylxanthines have a number of harmful impacts.

Caffeine and theobromine exert their most serious negative effects on the nervous system and the heart. They can also negatively affect the kidneys, muscles, and the gastrointestinal tract.

(Video) What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate (Home Remedies)

How much chocolate can a dog have before it's fatal?

The toxic dose of chocolate varies, depending on the dog’s size and the methylxanthine content of the chocolate. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate and semisweet chocolate, for example, contain far more caffeine and theobromine than milk chocolate.

For a five pound dog, just half an ounce of unsweetened baker’s chocolate could be fatal. An eighty pound Labrador Retriever, however, could likely survive the ingestion of twenty ounces of milk chocolate.

The risk of death associated with chocolate ingestion varies, depending on the dog’s weight, the quantity of chocolate ingested, and the type of chocolate ingested.

It’s important to remember that death isn’t the only risk associated with chocolate toxicity. Even if your dog has not consumed a fatal dose, they may still require medical treatment. The doses of chocolate that cause seizures are typically considered to be a fatal dose, for example, but seizures can be fatal without treatment.

Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (4)

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs

Because chocolate affects the nervous system, stomach, heart, kidneys, and muscles, the symptoms of chocolate toxicity reflect the effects of chocolate on these organs and systems.

In the early stages of toxicity, you may notice vomiting, restlessness, increased thirst, and a bloated appearance to the belly. These signs are often followed by increased excitability, increased urination, and muscle tremors. In severe cases, your dog may develop seizures, generalized muscle rigidity, excessive panting, and even a loss of consciousness.

On a veterinary exam, your veterinarian may also notice a heart arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), increased blood pressure, and an elevated body temperature.

What to do if your dog eats chocolate

If you are concerned that your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, the Pet Poison Helpline (opens in new tab), or Animal Poison Control (opens in new tab) immediately.

A veterinarian or veterinary technician can assess whether your dog’s chocolate ingestion is likely to have toxic effects, and determine whether your dog needs emergency treatment.

Treating chocolate poisoning in dogs

If your dog’s chocolate ingestion was very recent, your veterinarian will attempt to clear the chocolate from the gastrointestinal tract before it is absorbed.

This may involve inducing vomiting, or giving your dog activated charcoal that will bind to chocolate and prevent its absorption. Your veterinarian may also perform gastric lavage, or “pump the stomach,” to further reduce chocolate absorption.

Treatment of chocolate toxicity is supportive in nature. There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. Instead, your veterinarian will give your dog intravenous fluids to flush caffeine and theobromine out of your dog’s circulation.

(Video) Veterinary treatment for chocolate toxicity in dogs

Medications will be given as needed, to control high blood pressure, seizures, muscle tremors, heart arrhythmias, vomiting, and hyperactivity.

Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (5)

How long does it take for chocolate to get out of a dog's system?

Signs of chocolate toxicity typically develop approximately four to six hours after ingestion, and the duration of your dog’s signs will largely depend on how much chocolate your dog ingested.

Caffeine is cleared from the system quickly, but theobromine is cleared from the circulation relatively slowly. Signs of chocolate toxicity will resolve once your dog’s blood levels of theobromine fall to normal levels. In dogs, blood theobromine levels fall by approximately 50% every 18 hours.

After 36 hours, your dog’s theobromine levels will be about a quarter of what they were at their peak. After three days (72 hours), your dog’s theobromine levels will be down to 6% of what they were at their peak.

Depending on your dog’s blood theobromine levels at their peak, the effects of chocolate toxicity resolve within one to four days.

Can a dog recover from chocolate poisoning?

Your dog’s prognosis will depend on the quantity and type of chocolate ingested, your dog’s size, and how promptly you seek veterinary care. With this information, your veterinarian should be able to provide you with a reasonably accurate idea of what to expect in your dog’s situation.

Dogs ingesting a very small amount of milk chocolate may experience only a brief period of vomiting and diarrhea. With appropriate supportive care (medications and fluid support) these dogs should not experience any significant or permanent effects.

However, dogs that ingest large amounts of methylxanthines or experience a significant treatment delay may not survive, even with aggressive treatment.

In order to avoid chocolate poisoning in dogs, it’s important to not let dogs eat chocolate. While the highest toxicity risks are associated with baker’s chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and other concentrated forms of chocolate, even milk chocolate can prove fatal, depending on the amount ingested.

If you suspect that your dog may have ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison hotline immediately to determine what care your dog needs.

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Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate (6)

Catherine Barnette DVM

(Video) How Much Chocolate Can Kill Your Dog?

Dr. Barnette is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received both her B.S. in Zoology and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She has 15 years of clinical experience as a small animal veterinarian, treating dogs, cats, and occasional exotic patients. She now works as a freelance veterinary writer, creating educational content for veterinarians, veterinary team members, and dedicated pet owners. Dr. Barnette lives in southwest Florida with her husband and daughter (plus two cats, a dog, and a rescued dove!) and enjoys kayaking, biking, and hiking. Learn more about Dr. Barnette at


Chocolate poisoning in dogs: what you should do if your dog eats chocolate? ›

If your dog ate chocolate, you should contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately.

How do you treat chocolate poisoning in dogs at home? ›

Vetted Pet Care suggests taking only three percent solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (not the concentrated six percent solution) and putting 1ml for every pound of body weight (so 16 ml for 16 pounds), into food or in a dropper to feed her to induce vomiting.

What can I give my dog for chocolate poisoning? ›

If treated early, decontamination including inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to prevent absorption of theobromine into the body may be all that is necessary. Treatments of activated charcoal may be repeated to reduce the continued resorption and recirculation of theobromine.

How do you flush chocolate out of a dog's system? ›

If your pet consumed the chocolate less than two hours ago, your veterinarian may induce vomiting and give them several doses of activated charcoal, which works to move the toxins out of the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Can you cure chocolate poisoning in dogs? ›

Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. Induction of vomiting must be done within 2 hours of chocolate ingestion to be effective. If you are too far from the veterinary clinic, your vet may ask that you induce vomiting at home.

How long after a dog eats chocolate will they be OK? ›

How Long Does Chocolate Poisoning Last? Theobromine has a long half-life, and it can stay in your dog's system for days. It can take 72 hours for the first symptoms of chocolate poisoning to begin to ease. This is why early treatment is so important, for chocolate and frankly any type of poisoning.

Will my dog be OK after eating chocolate? ›

Chocolate contains properties that are toxic to dogs. Depending on the dog's size and how much chocolate it ingests, a dog can experience poisoning with symptoms that range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and sudden death.

Should I give my dog peroxide after eating chocolate? ›

If your dog eats chocolate, the first thing you need to do is contact your veterinarian. They will likely tell you to make the dog vomit to get the chocolate out of his digestive system. You can use 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in dogs.

Does milk help dogs with chocolate poisoning? ›

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. Theobromine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and even death in dogs. Milk does not contain any theobromine-neutralizing properties, so it will not prevent your dog from getting sick if they consume chocolate.

Does Dawn remove chocolate? ›

A few effective ways to remove chocolate from clothing are to: Scrape the chocolate off the material. Flush the affected area with cold water or club soda. Rub a few drops of Dawn Dish Soap or laundry detergent on the stain.

Should I let my dog sleep after eating chocolate? ›

No, it's unsafe. Dogs are very sensitive even to small quantities of theobromine, which is the component of chocolate that is poisonous and potentially lethal to them. This component occurs in milk chocolate, not just dark.

How long does it take for a dog to show signs of poisoning? ›

Affected dogs show signs 30 minutes to 4 hours after ingesting the poison. Initially affected dogs become anxious and have an elevated body temperature. Panting is usually seen. Progressively they become worse and staggery.

What if my dog ate chocolate 3 hours ago? ›

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs mostly because of its theobromine content, which dogs are unable to metabolize effectively. If your dog eats chocolate, you should monitor them closely and seek veterinary attention if they show any symptoms, or if they are very young, pregnant or have other health concerns.

What should I watch after my dog eats chocolate? ›

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in dogs

The most common signs of toxicity from theobromine are vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. In severe cases, symptoms can include muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.

How can I treat my dogs food poisoning at home? ›

What Can You Do for Food Poisoning in Dogs? As a rule, try fasting your dog for 24 hours when they start vomiting—offer water, but no food. If they continue to vomit during that period of time, they need to have a veterinary exam.

Will vinegar take out chocolate? ›

Does vinegar remove chocolate stains? You bet! If you'd rather skip the stain remover in favor of a more natural solution, combine one part vinegar and one part water, soak the stain in the solution for 10 minutes, and wash as usual.

What breaks down chocolate? ›

For instance, amylase breaks down starches and sugars that you might find in chocolate syrup, lipase breaks down fats like the triglycerides that are found in cocoa butter that is used in milk chocolate and white chocolate, and protease breaks down proteins that are found in chocolate milk and chocolate ice cream.

What is best to remove chocolate? ›

Distilled white vinegar is a safe, natural cleaner, disinfectant, and stain remover. Soak the stained clothing in a sink full of cold water and one cup of white vinegar for 30 minutes. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the stained area.

Can a dog recover from poisoning on its own? ›

Typically, mild cases of poisoning have high recovery rates. In severe poisoning cases or cases where treatment was delayed the chance of recovery is extremely low. When pets do recover from severe poisoning there can also be long-term damage to their overall health.

What is the first aid for dog poisoning? ›

If your pet has ingested a poison, try to rinse or wipe out the mouth with a damp towel/flannel. Do not give your pet anything to eat or drink before speaking with the Animal Poisons Helpline or a vet. We receive a lot of calls with pet owners asking how to induce vomiting in dogs.

What is the survival rate of dog poisoning? ›

The ASPCA Poison Control estimates that 25 percent of poisoned pets recover within two hours. Even with treatment, one in 100 poisoned pets will die.

How much hydrogen peroxide to give a dog who ate chocolate? ›

Give your dog 3% hydrogen peroxide, one to two teaspoons for every ten pounds of weight. You can squirt this solution to the back of your dog's tongue using a turkey baster, eye dropper or needless syringe. The taste and foam with prompt vomiting within five to ten minutes after administration.

Should you give water to a poisoned dog? ›

If your pet has ingested a poison, try to rinse or wipe out the mouth with a damp towel/flannel. Do not give your pet anything to eat or drink before speaking with the Animal Poisons Helpline or a vet.

What is the fastest way to resolve food poisoning? ›

Treating food poisoning
  1. rest as much as possible.
  2. eat when you feel up to it – sticking to small, light and non-fatty meals at first (bland foods such as toast, crackers, rice and bananas are good choices)
  3. avoid alcohol, caffeine, fizzy drinks and spicy and fatty foods because they may make you feel worse.
Feb 22, 2023

How do vets treat chocolate poisoning? ›

How is chocolate poisoning in dogs treated? Treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs may include induced vomiting, activated charcoal, intravenous fluids, heart medications, anti-convulsants, and antacids, depending on the clinical signs.

Should I induce vomiting if my dog ate chocolate? ›

If you know your dog has consumed chocolate, call your vet and get your dog treated as soon as possible. The first step is to induce vomiting and give multiple doses of activated charcoal to decontaminate. If needed, your pet will be given IV fluids, and sedatives may be given to keep your pet calm.

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to kick in for dogs? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is an irritant to the dog's intestinal tract and typically works within 10-15 minutes, recovering about 50 percent of the ingested contents of your dog's stomach.


1. My Dog Ate Chocolate! What Do I Do? | Ultimate Pet Nutrition - Dog Health Tips
(Ultimate Pet Nutrition)
2. Chocolate Overload: Knowing What To Do If Your Dog Accidentally Eats Chocolate
3. My Dog Ate Chocolate, What Do I Do?
(Talent Hounds)
4. Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
(Veterinary Secrets)
5. Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs
6. The Truth About Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs - Daily Pet Tips
(Our Pets Health)


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