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Why is Chocolate Dangerous to Dogs?

January 15, 2021

Do your pups look at you like this when you have food? Yeah, mine too, and even though it’s nice to spoil them once in a while, some foods can be dangerous to our canine companions. Chocolate is one of the most hazardous foods a dog can get ahold of. We, humans, enjoy the sweet, smooth taste of chocolate; so do dogs, the only difference is that it can kill them very easily.

Image source: Pexels


Humans evolved in a way that allows us to eat plants and meat, we’re omnivores, but our dogs aren’t. Being (almost) strictly carnivore some plant-based materials are difficult for our pets to digest, and can quickly turn deadly. Chocolate is the most readily available poison a dog can get into. The most active ingredient is theobromine, which has a similar molecular structure to caffeine. Humans don’t have a problem digesting theobromine in mass, but dogs, since it comes from a plant-based material, have a tough time passing it. It gets built up in their systems, and even small amounts of chocolate can be dangerous.

What Happens?

It doesn’t take long to build up and start causing havoc either. After a few hours, a dog that has consumed chocolate can start a variety of symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • Muscle tension
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Death

Of course, the poisoning is worse for smaller breeds since it takes much less to put them in a life-threatening state. The kind of chocolate is essential as well, milk chocolate, for example, carries less theobromine than dark chocolate, making dark chocolate more deadly.

Chocolate danger zone (Tolerance).  Image source:

What can I do?

The most significant question I see when it comes to dogs and chocolate is “my dog ate chocolate do I need to go to the vet?” The answer is yes, go as soon as you can, load up your dog and take them immediately, the sooner they get help, the better. Of course, chocolate isn’t always a death sentence, but you should keep any and all chocolate away from your pet.

If you think your pet may have consumed chocolate, even if you’re not sure, it’s always safer to contact the vet. Be sure to call ahead of time if you question if the trip is needed, as long as you can estimate your dog’s weight and the amount of chocolate eaten your vet should be able to advise you if they’re in danger or if only mild symptoms should show.

The best way to avoid your pet going through this is simple, keep the chocolate out of their reach. Mistakes happen of course, but if you’re careful to deny them access to chocolate, they’ll never have to go through the stress of being poisoned by the sweet treat.