Why Dogs Can’t Have Chocolate

A chocolate lab puppy licks their nose while sitting on the green grass

Dogs and chocolate don’t mix. While many dog owners know to keep their chocolate stash out of paw’s reach, understanding why your dog can’t have chocolate, and what to do if they accidentally ingest it, can potentially help save your dog’s life.

Did you know? The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center averages over 103 cases of chocolate ingestion per day, or more than one case every 15 minutes.

A black and white photo of a dog looking sad laying on the ground

What Makes Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both stimulating the cardiovascular and nervous systems in canines and humans, but dogs can’t metabolize them at the same rate as humans. The result? Longer-lasting and more severe symptoms. The higher the percentage of cocoa in your chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine and caffeine, and the more toxic it is to your dog.

Did you know? Most cases of chocolate poisoning occur around Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas when you’re more likely to have chocolate around.

A puppy in a large dog bed and a large dog in a small dog bed

How Much Chocolate Would Cause Severe Toxicity in My Dog?

The amount of chocolate that is toxic to your dog is relative to their weight—the smaller the dog, the smaller the amount of chocolate in a toxic dose. 


  • Milk Chocolate: 6 oz.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: 3 oz.
  • Dark Chocolate: 2.5 oz.
  • Baking Chocolate: 1 oz.


  • Milk Chocolate: 15 oz.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: 6.5 oz.
  • Dark Chocolate: 7 oz.
  • Baking Chocolate: 2.5 oz.


  • Milk Chocolate: 26 oz.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: 10.5 oz.
  • Dark Chocolate: 11 oz.
  • Baking Chocolate: 4 oz.
A brown dog laying in a padded dog crate inside a home

Dog-Proof Your Sweets

  • Always keep chocolate in high cabinets that your dog cannot reach.
  • Remind any children in the home that these items are dangerous for your dog.
  • Be extra vigilant around the holidays.
  • Crate your dog when you’re gone to keep them from eating things they shouldn’t.
A dog outside with its tongue sticking out, panting

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

Symptoms that require immediate medical attention:

  • Vomiting
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Heavy panting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Staggering
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration

If your dog is small or ingests an unknown quantity of chocolate, take them to the vet immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

If you know exactly how much your dog ate, contact your veterinarian. After calculating the amount of toxin ingested relative to your dog’s weight, the vet will likely recommend either a watch-and-wait approach or immediate emergency treatment.

Remember, when in doubt, always have your dog checked out by your veterinarian, or call the ASPCA Poison Control hotline, toll-free at (888) 426-4435 for immediate answers. 

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