How Much Chocolate Can Kill A Dog? (When To Call A Vet)

Last Updated on May 20, 2021 by adrienne hardwick

Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning in dogs, and a lot of the time it can be fatal.

It’s tempting to give in to those puppy dog eyes while you’re watching a movie together, but a nibble off the end of your Cadbury share-size bar (no judgement) could be fatal. 

A mere 8g of chocolate is all it can take to kill a dog. Of course, you have to take body size into consideration, a larger dog will need a lot more and a very small dog (think toy breed) may succumb to less than that. But if you want to know how much chocolate can kill a dog, there you have it. 

But before you panic and rush to the vet because your dog ate a fallen crumb from your chocolate muffin, let us take you through more information about how chocolate poisoning works and the amount they can get away with according to body size. 

Chocolate Poisoning for Dogs 

It’s shocking how many dogs are still admitted to the vet with chocolate poisoning despite 94% of owners knowing that it is toxic to them – especially around Christmas time when the poisoning cases absolutely skyrocket. 

Most dogs have had a little chocolate in their life. I remember the panic when I set my hot chocolate down at the train station and my dog thought it would be great to have a drink.

I took him to the vet, he had no adverse effects, but it happens so easily. 

The severity of the poisoning depends on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate they ate, as you will discover in the next section, but the good news is that they have a good chance of recovery – especially if you contact your vet right away. 

How Much Chocolate Can a Dog Eat Without Dying? 

It really does depend on the size of your dog. So, let’s take a good look at how much they can eat without dying and at which point they reach the danger zone. 

Image Source: https://i.imgur.com/q6KKJA0.png

What we do know for sure is that the ingredient in chocolate that is poisonous to them is theobromine.

They will show symptoms of poisoning for every 20mg consumed per kilogram of their total weight. At 40-50mg per kilogram, these symptoms become severe. 

Dark chocolate is the most toxic, followed by milk chocolate, and white chocolate is the least toxic.

When we compare this to average dog weights we can see how much chocolate your dog would have to eat to get sick – check out the table. 

SizeMilk Chocolate Dark Chocolate 
Toy (3-4kg)27g11g
Small (6-8kg)53g22g
Medium (16-23kg)140g58g
Large (30-35kg)261g109g
Giant (57-89kg)496g206g

So, as long as your dog eats less than the amounts shown in the table, they are unlikely to die as a result of chocolate poisoning.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to take them to the vet though, make sure you have them checked over! 

List of Chocolate Poisoning Symptoms 

If you are worried your dog has eaten chocolate, remember that symptoms can show from as little as one hour after eating it all the way to 24 hours later.

On average, symptoms will show between 6 and 12 hours after the chocolate has been eaten. 

Make sure you call your vet as soon as you notice they have eaten the chocolate or you see any of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Restlessness 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Tremors 
  • Seizures 

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate 

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you need to make sure they have access to plenty of water as this will help to flush their system out.

You should also call the vet and, if possible, keep hold of the wrapper so you know roughly how much they ate. 

Follow your vet’s advice and keep an eye on them to see if they start showing any symptoms of chocolate poisoning. Remember that it can take a while for the symptoms to manifest so you may need to stay up with them through the night. 

If at any point you feel really concerned, just head to the vet. They aren’t going to be upset and it is better to stay on the safe side of things with such a severe form of poisoning. 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Eating Chocolate

It all comes down to being sensible, and not like me putting their hot chocolate down on the ground at the train station. Keep chocolate out of reach at all times. When you store it away, put it in the cupboard or the fridge. 

Even if you have a sealed pack of chocolate muffins on the counter, stick them in the cupboard.

Dogs have strong teeth and jaws, they can get through that packaging if they want to. If it is out of reach and out of sight, it makes things safer for them. 

If you do not live in an open-plan house, keep the kitchen door SHUT at all times as well. This stops them from sneaking in for a little nosey through the cupboards.

The cupboards the chocolate is stored in should be overhead ones so your dog cannot reach them. 

You might laugh, but it’s amazing how quickly they can figure out how to open cupboards and doors if left unattended. Take all the risks away and you will sleep better at night – trust me. 

How to Make a Dog Vomit After Eating Chocolate

Honestly, this is not something you should do yourself. Hydrogen peroxide is used to make dogs vomit, usually a small teaspoon of it, but this can have fatal effects if you do it incorrectly or use too much. Therefore, you should only allow the vet to induce vomiting. 

Making a dog vomit after eating chocolate can only really be done within the first hour before digestion gets started. This is also because your dog is unlikely to have shown any symptoms yet and so there are no further risks when making them throw up. 

Listen to us though – take them to the vet to make them vomit, DO NOT try it at home because it could have some pretty dire consequences. 

Take a look at our guide which helps you understand everything you need to know about your dog’s upset stomach.

FAQs

How long does it take for chocolate to affect dogs?

It usually takes 6-12 hours for chocolate poisoning to affect dogs, although it can happen as quickly as one hour depending on how much they ate and their sensitivity to it. This is why it is important to contact your vet as soon as they eat it instead of waiting. 

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

It can take 72 hours for chocolate to get out of a dog’s system. Sometimes it is sooner, but this all depends on how much they ate, the size of the dog, and the severity of the poisoning. It is important to monitor them closely or leave them with the vet for as long as possible. 

Should dogs drink water after eating chocolate?

Definitely, dogs should drink water after eating chocolate. The fluids will help to flush their system out while you call the vet and wait for advice.

Even if they have only had a little bit of chocolate, make sure they are getting more than enough fluids while you wait. 

Take a look at how much water your dog should really drink, and how long they can go without water, you will be surprised. 

Final Thoughts 

Size matters when it comes to chocolate poisoning, and while you don’t have to panic if they only ate a crumb, it is best to err on the side of caution with this potentially fatal form of poisoning. Just follow our advice, and you and your dog will be absolutely fine. 

If you found this installation in our series of canine care guides interesting, make sure you check out the rest.

Dietary dos and don’ts, best dog food, health watch, and general care are just some of the topics we cover in great detail. Written by the experts to help you care for your pets. 

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