Chocolate Toxicity Calculator For Dogs

chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats

If your dog has eaten chocolate, use our Chocolate Toxicity Calculator below as a guide as to whether your dog needs to see a veterinarian.
While every effort is made to ensure the calculations are correct, this diagnostic tool is a guide only.

Please seek animal poison advice from our vets if you are concerned.

Even if your dog is not showing symptoms of chocolate poisoning, it is wise to seek veterinary advice and monitor your pet for any changes (see below for clinical signs to watch out for).

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Why Is Chocolate Poisonous?

Dogs love chocolate, but unfortunately they can’t metabolise it as effectively as we can.

In dogs, metabolism of chocolate can take longer than 18hours.

The chemical toxicity in chocolate is due to the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine. (Theobromine being by far the most important).

While theobromine is also poisonous to cats, thankfully for them, they don’t tend to seek out chocolate as cats don’t have a sweet tooth (how lucky!).

What Are The Signs Of Chocolate Toxicity?

It can take 6–12 hrs after ingestion for clinical signs of chocolate toxicosis to become apparent.

Initial signs that you may notice include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • bloating
  • increased restlessness
  • drinking a lot

As signs progress we will often see:

  • hyperactivity
  • wobbliness (ataxia)
  • increased urination (polyuria)
  • elevated heart rate (tachycardia) and other cardiac signs (hypotension, bradycardia (slow heart rate), rhythm disturbances i.e. ventricular premature contractions)
  • rigidity
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • hyperthermia
  • hypokalaemia (high blood potassium)
  • coma
  • death

Because many chocolate sources have high-fat content, it is not unusual for a dog who has consumed chocolate to then suffer from pancreatitis.

What Chocolate Is The Most Toxic To Dogs?

Not all chocolate contains the same amount of theobromine.

As a general rule we say:

The darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is

The amount of theobromine in different types of chocolate is shown here:

Cocoa Bean Mulch                              2-28mg/g

Cocoa beans                                         10.6-53mg/g

Dry cocoa powder                               14-26mg/g

Unsweetened baker’s chocolate       13.7-15.9mg/g

Dark semisweet                                   4.7mg/g

Milk chocolate                                      1.5-2.11mg/g

White chocolate                                   0.008mg/g

While some might argue that it can be safe to give your dog a small chocolate treat, a far safer alternative would be to give your dog ‘pet chocolate’ that doesn’t contain the toxic theobromine.

How Much Chocolate Kills A Dog?

The LD50 of both caffeine and theobromine is estimated to be around 100–200 mg/kg.

Occasionally severe clinical signs and death can occur at much lower dosages so it appears that individual sensitivity to methylxanthines can vary between individuals.

For this reason, we recommend that even if your dog is not showing any signs or even subtle signs, you continue to monitor them closely.

How Does A Vet Treat Chocolate Poisoning?

If we decide that your dog has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate then it’s important to start decontamination.

Your dog will be made to vomit.

Depending on the amount eaten, they may then be made to eat activated charcoal. This helps to absorb the chocolate toxins so they move through the body rather than be absorbed to then have to be metabolised.

If signs are more progressed a vet may need to place your dog on IV fluids to increase decontamination.

Relaxants may be needed to prevent tremors and seizures.

Heart medications may be required to lower the heart rate and prevent arrhythmias or hypotension.

For the majority of cases decontamination via forcing vomiting will be enough. Your dog will still likely have some sort of stomach upset such as diarrhoea but in general, the prognosis for recovery is excellent.

Find out about other potential pet poisons in our article Top Dangers For Pets In Autumn.

Please contact us if you are concerned and need to discuss what to do if you get a moderate or severe value.  We can help you with steps you can take at home and advise if you need veterinary attention.

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