When A Dog Eats Chocolate



Easter is upon us, a time to amass a hoard of chocolate delights and defend your stash from any looking to lay claim to it. This easter, be particularly on guard for those indiscriminate family members of the four legged variety!

While chocolate is a favourite treat for people, it can be toxic for pets. There are two main reasons why allowing your pet to eat chocolate is a bad idea:

  1. Sudden ingestion of a high fat meal
    Even though we don't like to admit it, chocolate is high in fat. If your pet finds its way to demolishing a substantial quantity of chocolate, this fat content can create a lethal metabolic disease known as pancreatitis. Some of the signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhoea, and severe adbominal pain. Aside from pancreatitis, the fat and sugar content of chocolate alone will leave most pets with a temporary upset stomach.
  2. Theobromine toxicity
    The second and main reason why you should not allow your pet to eat chocolate is because it contains a compound called theobromine, which is toxic for pets. Theobromine, as well as caffiene, are the main ingredients found in the cacoa seed from which chocolate is derived. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine is present, and the greater risk of toxicity exists. This makes cooking chocolate the most toxic, followed by dark chocolate, then milk chocolate and finally white chocolate.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactivity
  • Abnormal heart rythm and rapid heart beat
  • Death in severe cases

So how much chocolate is toxic?
A toxic dose of theobromine causing mild symptoms is 19.8mg per kilogram of bodyweight. Severe symptoms occur at up to 39.6mg per kilogram.


The amount of theobromine ingested depends on the type of chocolate:

  • Milk chocolate contains 1.55mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate
  • Dark chocolate contains 5.3mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate
  • Cooking chocolate contains 13.75mg of theobromine per gram of chocolate


The number of grams of chocolate a pet would need to eat for the onset of toxic signs:

Weight of Pet (kilograms) 1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80
Milk Chocolate (grams) 12.75 63.85 127.75 191.60 255.50 319.35 383.25 447.10 510.95 638.70 766.45 894.20 1021.95
Dark Chocolate (grams) 3.75 18.70 37.35 56.05 74.75 93.40 112.10 130.75 149.45 186.80 224.15 261.50 298.85
Cooking Chocolate (grams) 1.45 7.20 14.40 21.60 28.80 36.00 43.20 50.40 57.60 72.00 86.40 100.80 115.20

How long does theobromine stay in a pets system?
It can take up to four days for theobromine to find its way out of your pets system, and for it's effects to dissapear.

If you catch your pet in the act eating chocolate, it is possible to induce vomiting to help get it out of their system. Otherwise, hospitalisation at the vet and supportive care is often needed until your pet makes a full recovery.

Easter can be a great time of year, but spoil your pets with something pet friendly, and keep the chocolate for the rest of the family instead.

From all of us here at Carnarvon Vet Hospital, we'd like to wish you, your family and pets all a Happy Easter!