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Can dogs eat chocolate?

While chocolate is delicious to most humans, it’s not safe for your dog. You should never give your dog chocolate – no matter how much they beg. This guide will explain why chocolate is bad for dogs and what to do if your dog eats chocolate by accident.

It’s so important to ignore those puppy eyes and keep chocolate well out of the way of your furry friends. Find out more about chocolate poisoning in dogs in our guide .

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Dogs and chocolate just don’t go together. Chocolate contains the theobromine chemical, similar to caffeine, which is poisonous to our pooches. A dog’s digestive system finds it hard to break this down and it can cause overstimulation of the muscles – like the heart – which can have severe consequences.

The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the more harmful and toxic it is likely to be. Dark chocolate tends to have more cocoa powder so is more dangerous for dogs than milk chocolate. Cocoa powder itself is especially toxic. 

The size of your dog also affects how severe it will be if your dog ate chocolate. The bigger the dog, the more chocolate they may be able to tolerate. But, it’s important to note it is always dangerous no matter what size your dog is.

Is white chocolate bad for dogs?

White chocolate has less of a toxicity risk as it doesn’t contain solid cocoa, but it does still have fats and sugars which can be harmful to your dog. The fat and sugar content could cause stomach upsets and even pancreatitis in more serious cases.

What to do if your dog eats chocolate 

Even if you do everything you can to keep dogs and chocolate separate, sometimes accidents happen. A mischievous pup could jump up and knock chocolate biscuits from the side. Or, the kids could drop some on the sofa and the dog lunges to get it before you do. Whatever happens, it’s important to know what to do if your dog eats chocolate. 

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you should call your vet as soon as possible. If you still have the chocolate packaging you should take this to the vet with you, so they can try and work out if your dog has consumed a toxic amount. If your dog is already acting unwell, they may need immediate medical assistance.

How much chocolate can a dog eat?

Dogs shouldn’t eat any chocolate at all. But if they have managed to nab some, certain kinds are more harmful than others. As mentioned above, cocoa powder itself is the most toxic and white chocolate is the least harmful – but it’s still very dangerous and can make your furry friend poorly.

Symptoms of a dog eating chocolate

It’s hard to have your eyes on your dogs at all times. However, there are some key signs to look out for if you suspect your precious pooch has got in the chocolate drawer. The symptoms usually appear within two to four hours of the dog ingesting the chocolate, but it could also take up to 12.

You may notice your dog suffering from:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Upset tummy
  • Vomiting
  • Drinking and urinating more than usual
  • Abdominal pain

If severe, chocolate poisoning can cause:

  • Shaking and tremors
  • Fast breathing and panting
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure

The worst cases of chocolate poisoning in dogs may cause comas, heart failure or even death.

What are the treatments for dogs who have eaten chocolate?

If your dog has eaten chocolate, it’s important that they see a vet as soon as possible. The specific treatment will depend on what chocolate they have eaten, how much, and the dog themselves.

Induced vomiting

If you take your dog to the vet within a few hours after they ingested the chocolate, the vet may be able to inject them to make them vomit the toxins out.

Activated charcoal

The vet may use activated charcoal to help absorb any remaining nasty toxins. You may also be given some to continue with at home, after you’ve been to the vet.

Fluid drip

If your dog has eaten a lot of chocolate and is in a bad way, they may need to have a drip administered. This will try to support their organs and prevent them from dehydrating while their body gets rid of the toxins.


If your dog is experiencing seizures and tremors, your vet may need to sedate them.


Your vet may decide that it’s wise to keep your furry friend in overnight to keep a closer eye on them. They will also suggest that you keep a watch on them at home.  Be sure to contact your vet if your dog seems to be getting worse.


Does pet insurance cover dogs eating chocolate?

Most pet insurance can cover some of the treatments for chocolate poisoning in dogs, but you should check your policy or speak to your provider for clarification. The bills can rack up so it’s important to consider insuring your dog so you’re covered for the unexpected.

Frequently asked questions 

How much chocolate is toxic to a dog?

Any amount of chocolate can be very harmful for dogs, but the severity depends on the type of chocolate:

  • Milk chocolate – your dog is at risk of chocolate poisoning if they eat more than half an ounce per pound of their body weight
  • Dark chocolate – your dog is at risk of poisoning if they eat more than 0.13 ounces per pound of body weight

Can dogs eat a little bit of chocolate?

No, your dog should not eat any chocolate as even just a small amount could make them unwell. Even if one little piece does not harm them, you should not take the risk and make sure that your dog doesn’t consume any.

What happens if a dog eats chocolate?

If your dog manages to snag a piece of chocolate, try not to panic but act quickly. Contact your vet for advice immediately. You can also contact the Animal Poison Helpline. Your dog may display symptoms like increased thirst, restlessness and vomiting.

Dog insurance from Sainsbury’s Bank can help you to prepare for the unexpected, and make sure your furry friend is covered for any unexpected vet treatments. Take a look at our pet insurance range, provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc, to find cover that suits you and your four-legged friend.