How Much Chocolate Can Kill a Dog? (Chart)

how much chocolate can kill a dog

If you are worried about your dog eating chocolate, call a vet now and without delay. However, if you simply want information to help safeguard for any issues in the future, this article explains how much chocolate can kill a dog.

Bear in mind that all dogs are different, so the “how much chocolate can kill a dog chart” I’ve put together below is for illustrative purposes only. If you have any concerns, call a vet immediately.

To be clear, how much chocolate can kill a dog will depend on the type of chocolate in question and the dog’s body weight. For instance, a small dog can die if they eat less than an ounce of dark chocolate, but a large dog can survive if they eat that same amount.

Each type of chocolate affects dogs differently.

How much chocolate can kill a dog chart

Here’s how much chocolate can kill a dog in grams / ounces (credited to Care Animal Hospital).

  • Cooking / baking chocolate: 1 to 2 ounces per pound of a dog’s weight
  • Dark chocolate: 1 to 2 ounces per pound of a dog’s weight.
  • Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of a dog’s weight.
  • Sweet cacao: Less than an ounce of a dog’s weight.
  • White chocolate: Less than an ounce of a dog’s weight.

While most dog owners know how chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs, it’s not always been clear just how much chocolate can kill a dog. And that’s frightening considering how easy it can be for greedy dogs to get hold of it.

For example, they might find a way to reach for the chocolate decorations under your Christmas tree or the leftover bar in your pantry, thinking it’s their lucky day. If only they knew!

So, how much of this tasty snack can lead to death? Well, like most things involving dogs and poisoning, it depends.

It depends on the chocolate eaten and the dog’s body weight. Not every kind of chocolate can make a dog die — like white chocolate (it’s still harmful, though, as you’ll see shortly).

But for those that can ( the likes of dark chocolate, baking chocolate, milk chocolate), here’s what the Pet Poison Helpline has to say about how much may cause fatal outcomes:

  • For dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or baking chocolate – Poisoning occurs when a dog eats more than 0.13 ounces of the chocolate for every pound they weigh
  • For milk chocolate – Poisoning occurs when a dog eats more than 0.5 ounces of the chocolate per every pound they weigh.
how much chocolate kills dog
Another chart to show how much chocolate can kill a dog.

Body weight is a huge determinant of whether a dog can die from chocolate poisoning. The toxic amount for small dogs differs from that for large dogs.

To help you understand this comparison better, here’s a quick example:

Dog’s weight in poundsQuantity of chocolate considered toxic
 9-pound dogThey will show signs of chocolate poisoning if they eat:

●      Only 1 ounce of baking chocolate

●      3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

●      9 ounces of milk chocolate

 27-pounds dogThey will show signs of chocolate poisoning if they eat:

●      3 ounces of baking chocolate

●      9 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

●      27 ounces of milk chocolate

63-pounds dogThey will show signs of chocolate poisoning if they eat:

●      7 ounces of baking chocolate

●      21 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

●      63 ounces of milk chocolate

Source: Medicinenet.com

Since a single chocolate square equals 1 ounce, it’s correct to say that a small dog can die if they only have one square piece of dark chocolate or 9 square pieces of milk chocolate bar.

On the other hand, a large dog can die if they eat seven squares of a dark chocolate bar or 63 squares of a milk chocolate bar.

But we all know our furry friends. They often overindulge in delicious-yet-toxic stuff like chocolate, putting themselves at risk of severe symptoms.

What makes chocolate toxic for dogs?

There are two main stimulants that chocolate contains: theobromine and caffeine.

These two ingredients are the reason why chocolates are loved by many (besides the taste). The theobromine and caffeine give you a mild euphoric buzz and stimulate your nervous system (in a good way) to help you feel more relaxed.

Sounds magical, huh?

Well, chocolate does “magic” to our bodies because we have the enzymes that break down these two stimulants. But our canine pals don’t.

If your dog eats chocolate, the theobromine and caffeine will linger in their bloodstream and brain. These two stimulants will have an exaggerated effect on your dog’s heart and nervous system. For instance:

  • Increase their heart rate to dangerous levels
  • Mess with their blood pressure (make it abnormally high)
  • Increase the brain and nervous system activities to abnormal levels

Every kind of chocolate has its own concentration of theobromine and caffeine.

But the darker this sweet treat is, the more stimulants it has. A dog that ingests dark chocolate will suffer more harm than one that snacks on milk chocolate. According to research:

  • Baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the most theobromine and caffeine
  • Milk chocolate contains a moderate amount of the stimulants
  • White chocolate lacks theobromine and caffeine

White chocolate looks like the safest dog treat. But is it? A hundred times no!

This stimulant-free chocolate is full of sugar, fats (from cocoa butter), and milk that don’t get along with a dog’s body. Your furry friend will develop serious stomach discomfort and diarrhea after consuming white chocolate.

And when you offer them this type of chocolate regularly — even the tiniest amount — they will eventually develop chronic conditions like diabetes, pancreatitis, and tooth decay.

To avoid all these problems, never give your canine pal any type of chocolate, including the seemingly harmless white chocolate.

Something else.

The problem with giving your dog a tiny amount of white chocolate, thinking, “just a little this once won’t hurt,” is that they may instantly adore the taste.

Remember, our four-legged friends have such a heightened sense of smell. If they sniff anything chocolate-ish (even the deadly baking or dark chocolate), they’ll desire to taste it. And when they find it, it will be a whole different story.

Unlike us, dogs don’t seem to have an “off-button”  if they get a hold of your poorly-hidden stash of dark or milk chocolate, they will likely eat to the last crumb.

The life-threatening symptoms of chocolate toxicity — which experts say manifest within 6-12 hours after a dog eats chocolate — include:

  • Persistent vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Increased panting
  • Restlessness
  • Prolonged body tremors
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures

What you should do if your dog eats chocolate

When it comes to chocolate toxicity, you can’t simply “wait and observe what may happen.”

If you suspect your furry pal has snacked on chocolate, you should rush them to the vet (or call a pet poisoning helpline if your vet is unavailable) even before any symptoms appear.

The more you delay, the more damage theobromine and caffeine will do to the body. Your vet will know what to do to safely induce vomiting and put them on life-saving treatment.

A dog can survive even after eating lots of chocolate, like this lovely canine here. But timely treatment makes all the difference.

Your vet will also want to know the quantity of chocolate eaten, your dog’s weight, and the type of chocolate they’ve had. But even if you aren’t sure of the amount, your vet will know how best to handle the emergency.

FAQs

How much chocolate is toxic to a dog?

Depending on the dog’s weight, even less than an ounce (less than one chocolate square) can be toxic.

Can dogs survive eating a lot of chocolate?

Yes, that’s right. It’s still possible for a dog to survive a chocolate poisoning ordeal if they access life-saving treatment early enough.

How much chocolate can a dog consume without dying?

There is no safe amount of chocolate for dogs since even a tiny amount can cause potentially fatal health effects. You should never offer your furry friend chocolate as a treat.

How long does it take for chocolate to affect a dog?

Experts say the life-threatening symptoms of chocolate toxicity appear anywhere between 6 -12 hours after a dog consumes chocolate.

Conclusion

As a dog parent, you’ve likely heard that our furry friends and chocolate don’t mix. But how much of this tasty treat can kill a dog?

I hope you now have a better idea based on the different sources I’ve managed to present in this guide.

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Image in header via https://unsplash.com/photos/TzN2odwnesg

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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