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Chocolate - How Much Is REALLY Too Much for Dogs?

by Kathy Dannel Vitcak 2 min read

Chocolate - How Much Is REALLY Too Much for Dogs?

Of course, it is a good rule of thumb to not allow you dog to have ANY chocolate. But sometimes things don't go as planned or other people do stupid stuff (why yes, I am judging) and your dog chows down on chocolate.

Common sense would tell us that one Hershey kiss is not a lethal dose for my 150# Tili. But how much is too much chocolate? And there are so many kinds of chocolate, which is the worst? Is there an easy to remember rule of thumb for dogs and chocolate?

As the holiday season careens towards us with Halloween and chocolate is sitting in bowls right by the front door and before you know the temptations of Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah.  This can lead to your dog gorging on food that is NOT a treat for them.

A few years ago I got a frantic call from a dog friend. Her dogs had eaten all natural dark chocolate and were in intensive care at the vet. This chocolate was almost pure cocao, their hearts were racing and they were very, very sick dogs. She knew that was the deadliest form of chocolate for dogs and had gotten them to the vet almost immediately. They stayed at the vet for several days and survived this disaster without lasting ill effects, thanks to her quick actions. She had done nothing wrong, her taller dog had somehow opened an upper cabinet to get to the forbidden chocolate.

The Scoop On Chocolate & Dogs

We know chocolate is bad for dogs, but how much and what kind? "My dog ate some chocolate, what do I do?" is a call pet poison centers answer incessantly from October through January. 

Below are some of the latest facts and figures on what type of chocolate is bad for your dog. It is all based on the type of chocolate and body weight.

Why makes chocolate so bad for dogs?  The caffeine with theobromine is what makes it so dangerous. Chocolate is made from cocoa, and cocoa beans contain a lot of caffeine and a chemical compound called theobromine. Dogs absorb, or metabolize, theobromine much slower than humans do.

Have you ever drunk too much coffee, or an energy drink (or two) and had your heart race? What stays in us for a few minutes and makes for a bit of a buzz can be over 24 hours and lethal for a dog. Their hearts race and they can actually die of heart failure!

It usually takes at least 100-150 mg/kg of theobromine to cause a toxic reaction. Plus, there are variables to consider such as the individual dogs’ sensitivity, their size and the chocolate concentration.

Below we have Tili, our Leonberger/Great Pyrenees cross who is over 150 pounds and Larccán, our smooth Brussels Griffon, at a sassy 8 pounds. The difference is in amount of chocolate consumed for toxic levels is dramatic.

Think of it this way, our toy and small dogs are comparable to a newborn infant and bigger to giant breed dogs an adult human. What would make an infant very sick may not affect an adult. The same goes for our dogs.

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