Sunrise Pet Clinic: Educational Information

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Chocolate Is Not Good For Dogs:
Fact or Fiction?


By giving chocolate to a pet you could be poisoning your loved one. Small amounts of theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate, can cause vomiting, restlessness and seizures. Larger doses can be fatal.

The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association reported that a Springer Spaniel died after eating a two-pound bag of chocolate chips. Unaware of the theobromine hazards, the dog's owner did not seek veterinary care until it was too late. The pet became agitated, lost bladder control and developed seizures. Less than 18 hours after eating the chocolate the animal died.

While most pet owners would expect a dog to develop an upset stomach after eating a large amount of chocolate, few realize its toxic potential. When pets are finally taken to a veterinarian they are often in more advanced states than if they had eaten something obviously toxic such as rat poison.

A lethal dose of theobromine depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate. Ounce for ounce, baking chocolate has 6 to 8 times as much of the substance as milk chocolate. Estimates of the smallest amounts that can be fatal are:

  • 4 to 10 oz. of milk chocolate or ½ to 1 oz. of baking chocolate for small dogs such as Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles.
  •   1 to 1-1/2 lbs. of milk chocolate or 2 to 3 oz. of baking chocolate for medium-size dogs like Cocker Spaniels and Dachshunds.
  •   2 to 4-1/2 lbs. of milk chocolate or 4 to 8 oz. of baking chocolate for large dogs including Collies and Labradors.

While a very small amount of chocolate may not harm some dogs, it is safest to avoid giving it to them at all. If an accident occurs, consult your veterinarian immediately! Treatment may require induced vomiting, stabilizing heartbeat and respiration, controlling seizures, and slowing the absorption of theobromine.

Cats have different eating habits and seldom are poisoned by chocolate.


See Vomiting — When to Induce Vomiting in Your Pet

See Poisonous Plants Page

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