Dog Training

My dog ate chocolate (what to do?)

What should I do if my dog has eaten chocolate? What are the symptoms and why exactly should I not give chocolate to my darling? If you are asking yourself this question, then you are in the right place. I will tell you the answers and tips in this helpful guide.

Table of contents

Is chocolate toxic for dogs?

Yes, chocolate is toxic for dogs because of Theobromine. Your four-legged friend lacks the enzyme in the liver to break it down and decompose it. The types of bitter chocolate, dark chocolate and cooking chocolate contain the most theobromine. First symptoms appear about 2 to 4 hours after consumption.

The active ingredient theobromine

The theobromine content in chocolate depends on how much cocoa it contains. It has a mild, stimulating effect on our body and to some extent it boosts our mood. The theobromine content in the chocolate, unlike us, is dangerous for dogs, cats and horses.

That which is good for us can be deadly for our loved ones!


Theobromine is broken down much more slowly in the body of a protégé. Through regular consumption of chocolate, this substance can not be broken down and quickly accumulates.

Dogs lack an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for breaking down and decomposing this substance.

The half-life of theobromine in dogs is about 17.5 hours. This means that half of this toxic substance is still in your pet's body after 17.5 hours. After another 17.5 hours, i.e. 35 hours, the proportion drops to only 25%.

For small furry noses like the Yorkshire terrier, even one bar of chocolate can contain a lethal dose.

This is about 100mg theobromine per kg body weight. However, the first symptoms begin at much lower doses. However, it may vary depending on the sensitivity, breed and general health of your protégé.

How much theobromine is in chocolate?

How much theobromine is contained in chocolate or cocoa-containing products depends on the amount of cocoa. The values in the table below serve only as a starting point and may vary depending on the product and manufacturer:

Product Theobromine content
Dried cocoa powder 28.5 mg/g
Dark chocolate 16 mg/g
Cocoa bean shell 9.1 mg/g
Dark chocolate 5.7 mg/g
Milk chocolate 2.3 mg/g
Drinking chocolate (liquid) 0.4 mg/g
White chocolate 0.009 mg/g

What about dog chocolate?

Theobromine is structurally related to caffeine and has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. It is found in the cocoa tree, cola trees and tea plants, among others.

The dog chocolate is similar to the chocolate that we consume. It differs only in composition.

That's why dog chocolate has a very low cocoa and sugar content, so it does not have any toxic effect has. Most often, vitamins are added. 

The main ingredients of dog chocolate are milk, dairy products, fats or oils, sugar, cocoa and vegetable by-products.

Even though dog chocolate is designed to meet a dog's needs and serve as a treat, you should be very careful with it. Please note that many experts rather advise against it. Because apart from cocoa, sugar is also harmful for your darling.

If at all, you should only reward your pelt-nose with it in extremely rare cases.

Because if your protégé gets used to it, he can quickly steal an unattended bar of chocolate. Because he can not distinguish between the two types.

Symptoms of poisoning

1. the first symptoms

The first symptoms of chocolate poisoning appear about 2 to 4 hours after eating the chocolate. After about 12 to 36 hours, all symptoms appear in full. They can last up to 72 hours. The course of the manifestations is:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness, stress
  • Increased urination
  • Trembling
  • Increased, irregular or abnormal heart rate
  • Collapse of the nervous system, seizures
  • Death
ATTENTION: Older four-legged friends with a problem in the cardiovascular system have a greater risk of dying from chocolate poisoning!

If you have noticed that your pet has eaten chocolate, don't wait for the first symptoms to appear. Check how much chocolate and what kind he ate. Then call your veterinarian immediately!

2. symptoms of minor poisoning

The initial, milder symptoms at a low dose are:

  • Unrest
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloated belly
  • Increased thirst

3. symptoms of severe poisoning

The symptoms of severe poisoning are:

  • Unrest
  • Vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Cramps
  • Abnormal breathing, difficulty breathing
  • Tremors to seizures
  • Disturbance of consciousness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure, death

What to do in case of chocolate poisoning?

Always keep charcoal tablets at home - also called animal charcoal, activated charcoal, medicinal charcoal. You can obtain charcoal tablets from your veterinarian or from the pharmacy.

Always prepare an emergency ration for all cases. How much you should dose depends on your four-legged friend. Your vet can advise you on this or you can read the manufacturer's instructions.

Charcoal tablets are the first aid at home for poisoning!

Basically, you should not induce vomiting. There is a risk that your protégé is already severely weakened. This could cause the vomit to get into his lungs and suffocate him.

After consulting with your veterinarian, you should bring your furry friend to the clinic immediately.

Take the chocolate wrapper that was eaten. This will allow your veterinarian to more quickly determine how much theobromine is in the circulation. 

If your faithful companion has eaten the pack or other foreign objects, you should inform your veterinarian.

If you can't get your four-legged friend to your vet on your own, an emergency call to the fire department would be a solution.

Once you arrive at your vet's office, your doctor will use pharmaceuticals to make sure your dog is vomiting. He will also take further measures against the accompanying symptoms that have already set in.

Artboard 26

How can I avoid this?

1. keep chocolate and products containing cocoa out of reach.

Store all products that contain cocoa in a place that your pet can't reach. This can be a locked pantry, a high shelf, a kitchen cabinet, or a large plastic box that you can lock.

For festive occasions, it's better to put decorative chocolates and the like up high so that your darling can't reach them.

2. educate children and adults about

Toddlers in particular are inclined to share. It's like a game to them. Educate children about the harmful consequences of feeding. This includes adults who have no experience with dog ownership.

You should also be careful not to give children chocolate and products containing cocoa to snack on in the presence of a dog. Your pet may lick the child's mouth or fingers smeared with chocolate or Nutella.

Some adults can react very sensitively, even harshly, if you recommend something to them or wish something from them. It doesn't matter whether you meant well or not. 

You can approach your request diplomatically by simply reflecting it to someone else, or even to yourself. The main thing is that it works. 

Here is an example:

"The other day I left a package of chocolate chip cookies on the table. Fortunately, Daisy didn't notice. It was rash of me to just leave the cookies there. I could never have forgiven myself if she had fatally poisoned herself because of the cocoa in there. Just a few milligrams is enough. I was really lucky!"

3. dog training

There are very good books and workshops offered where you can teach your pet not to grab anything from the floor or table to eat. Or even to be fed by strangers before you allow it.

This training can also help you a lot when you go for a walk. This way, the risk of your dog snatching something from the ground - be it chocolate or some other poison - is very low.

My Conclusion

Chocolate is not only a temptation for your darling like us, but a death sentence!

That's why it's better to keep your hands off it. Because the "sweet" fun of theobromine has "bitter" consequences, which usually lead to the grave.

Personally, I avoid making my dog happy with dog chocolate and the like. Mine is also satisfied with other things, the main thing is that it is a treat 😉

And when I have time, I bake him something.

For good recipes you are welcome to visit my site
"15 Recipes for Treats & Co." browse around. You're sure to find what you're looking for there.

And do not forget:

Always have charcoal tablets ready at home, at picnics, when traveling!

Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic
Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion and it is my personal concern to create medically accurate articles and videos to inform pet owners as much as possible.

Learn more

Share now: