Can Dogs Eat Chocolate? Effects of Chocolate for Dogs as a Dog Food

can dogs eat chocolate

No, dogs cannot eat chocolates safely. Dogs should not be given chocolate to eat because it could be toxic. However, the dogs’ size, the type of chocolate, and the amount of chocolate could determine the severity of the chocolate’s effect on the dogs.

Chocolate contains a component called theobromine, and although humans metabolize theobromine efficiently, dogs process it slow enough to cause toxic buildup in their systems. While chocolate has positive effects on people, like improved moods and better focus, the same is not valid for dogs. Theobromine causes increased heart rates in dogs and also overstimulated nervous systems. 

How Can Chocolate Harm Dogs?

The harm chocolate can cause for dogs could be long-term. Here is the reason why dogs cannot eat chocolate safely. Dogs who consumed enough chocolates may experience profound disorientation, agitation, heart arrhythmias, and even seizures or death.

Dogs who do not experience such severe symptoms, and eat frequent chocolate treats, might risk pancreatitis. Symptoms could include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and poor appetite. Pancreatitis could lead to diabetes.

How Much Chocolate Can a Dog Eat per Day?

A dog can eat one to two bites of chocolate chip cookie or a few M&Ms per day, and it would most likely not suffer chocolate poisoning. However, different types of chocolates contain different quantities of theobromine, a toxic substance that could be fatal for dogs.

The following shows how different chocolate types can be more dangerous than others.

  • Semi-sweet and dark chocolate could be life-threatening for a dog that consumes more than 0.13 ounces per pound of its body weight.
  • Milk chocolate is slightly less toxic, and a dog who does not eat more than 0.5 ounces per pound of its body weight would be safe.

Which Nutrients in Chocolate are Harmful to Dogs’ Health?

The nutrients in chocolate that are harmful to dogs’ health are caffeine and theobromine, both belonging to the chemical group, methylxanthines. These toxic substances are more prevalent in darker and less sweet chocolate. 

However, dog owners should note that the same chemicals can be present in baked goods, flavored multivitamins, and chocolate-coated espresso beans. Anything dogs eat that contains methylxanthine could cause chocolate poisoning.

Can Chocolate Affect a Dog’s Mood?

No, chocolates do not affect a dog’s mood. Although chocolates have a positive effect on the moods of most humans, the same is not valid for dogs. Even dogs who can tolerate a small quantity of chocolate, the only change in their disposition might be additional energy caused by the caffeine in the chocolate.

Can Baby Dogs (Puppies) Eat Chocolate?

No, puppies can’t eat chocolate. Although a crumb of a chocolate biscuit or a lick of chocolate ice cream will not likely kill a pup, their systems cannot metabolize chocolate fast enough, causing a toxic buildup. The danger exists for puppies of all dog breeds.

Depending on the circumstances, a pup who consumed chocolate, even a small amount, might not immediately show adverse effects. However, dog owners should look out for symptoms like mild diarrhea and vomiting. Large amounts ingested could manifest into severe agitation, an elevated heart rate, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, collapse, or even death.

Can Old Dogs Eat Chocolate?

No, old dogs cannot eat chocolate. As with other dogs, the type of chocolate and the weight of the dog matter. As dogs age, their digestive systems deteriorate. The most significant danger when dogs eat chocolate is the fact that they cannot digest the toxic substances in chocolate, making older dogs more vulnerable.

Owners of older dogs will notice symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, often including blood. Other symptoms of chocolate poisoning include incoordination, muscle tension, rapid breathing, hyperactivity, and restlessness. A consultation with a veterinarian is vital in such circumstances.

Can Different Dog Breeds Eat Different Amounts of Chocolate?

Yes, different dog breeds can eat different amounts of chocolate. Larger breeds can eat more chocolate than medium, small or toy-sized breeds without severe consequences.

All chocolate types are dangerous for dogs, some more toxic than others, based on the number of toxic ingredients.

The list below shows chocolate products listed from most to least toxic for dogs:

  1. Cocoa beans
  2. Dry cocoa powder
  3. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  4. Dark semi-sweet
  5. Milk chocolate
  6. White chocolate

Different dogs can eat different amounts of chocolate per day. The type of chocolate, the weight of the dog, and the amount of chocolate the dog ingested are the primary criteria in the consequences of dogs consuming chocolates.

Labradors weigh between 60 and 80 pounds, and pugs weigh between 14 and 18 pounds. Based on that, Labradors can eat up to eight or ten ounces of dark chocolate before suffering severe health consequences. In contrast, pugs could die if they eat more than one or two ounces of dark chocolate.

The dogs listed below should be able to eat 8 ounces of chocolate safely:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever

The dogs listed below are at higher risks of chocolate poisoning. Because they are so much smaller, they should not ingest more than one ounce of chocolate.

  • Pugs
  • Pekingese 

For Which Dog Breeds Are Chocolate Less Beneficial?

Chocolate is less beneficial for all small breed dogs. Dogs at higher risk are listed below:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Yorkies
  • Maltese

In terms of chocolate toxicity, the size rather than the breed makes a dog vulnerable. Dogs whose weight is under 20 pounds would be at risk of dying if they do not receive immediate medical care after eating even one ounce of chocolate.

Which Chocolate Recipes and Types can Dogs Eat Safely?

Chocolate recipes and types cannot be eaten safely by dogs. However, dogs might come across some common household chocolate products as listed below:

  • Chocolate Ice Cream: 1 cup contains 178 mg of theobromine and 5.9 mg of caffeine
  • M&Ms: ½ cup contains 92 mg of theobromine and 8 mg of caffeine
  • REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups: 1 Cup contains 23 mg of theobromine and 1.5 mg of caffeine
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie: 2 ¼ inch diameter contains 20 mg of theobromine and 2.6 mg of caffeine

These common household products, in small amounts, would likely not cause more than an upset stomach in most dogs. However, puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with health problems would need urgent care after even small amounts of chocolate.

Chocolate is not regarded as dog food because none of its ingredients are beneficial for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Dark Chocolate Safely?

Dogs cannot eat dark chocolate safely because of the high concentration of the toxic substance theobromine. Gourmet dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain 130 to 450 mg of theobromine.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Cake Safely?

Dogs cannot eat chocolate cake safely, except if it was baked specifically with safe amounts of cocoa or chocolate based on the dog’s size.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Chips Safely?

Dogs can eat chocolates safely if they have only one or two. Semi-sweet chocolate chips contain 150 mg theobromine per ounce; dark chocolate chips are more toxic.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Pie Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat chocolate pie safely. Depending on the recipe, the type of chocolate used, and whether the crust contains chocolate, more than a bite or two for a medium-sized dog could be too much.

Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate Safely?

Dogs can eat small amounts of white chocolate because it contains only trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine. However, the high fat and sugar content could cause similar symptoms as chocolate poisoning, like vomiting and diarrhea.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Cookies Safely?

Dogs cannot eat chocolate cookies safely. The methylxanthines, like theobromine and caffeine, pose chocolate poisoning risks, and the wheat flour, sugar, and butter that make up the other ingredients also have adverse health consequences for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Pudding Safely?

No, dogs cannot eat chocolate pudding safely. All versions contain theobromine and caffeine. Ready-to-eat chocolate pudding pots, cook-and-serve, and homemade chocolate pudding are dangerous for dogs. Of these, the homemade version might be the worst because it typically contains about 100 g of cocoa, which could have more than 2000 mg of theobromine.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Ice Cream Safely?

No dogs cannot eat chocolate ice cream safely. One cup of Chocolate Ice Cream contains 178 mg of theobromine and 5.9 mg of caffeine. Additionally, it could adversely affect dogs with lactic intolerance problems.

Are There Any Brands That Use Chocolate Within Dog Foods?

There are no dog food brands that include chocolate in the dog foods they manufacture.

Which Dog Diseases Can Affect Dogs That Eat Chocolates?

Dog diseases that can affect dogs that eat chocolate are listed below:

  • Dogs can develop chocolate poisoning caused by the methylxanthine, like caffeine and theobromine contained in the chocolate. Adverse health effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and abnormal heart rates.
  • Repeated exposure to theobromine could cause a dog to develop cardiomyopathy. It is a chronic heart muscle disease that impairs the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood.
  • When a dog eats enough chocolate to cause harm, the theobromine attacks the cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs can experience diuretic effects like dizziness, muscle cramps, and dehydration.
  • When dogs eat prepared foods containing chocolate like desserts, cookies, and cakes, the high sugar and fat content could cause inflammation of the pancreas or even pancreatitis.

Why Shouldn’t a Dog Eat Chocolate?

A dog should not eat chocolate because it contains a dangerous class of chemicals, called methylxanthines, such as theobromine and caffeine. These chemicals are toxic, and they adversely affect the dog’s muscles and the heart. Dogs have problems metabolizing methylxanthines, increasing their sensitivity to the toxic effects of the chemicals.

Can Dogs Eat a Little Bit of Chocolate?

Yes, dogs can eat a little bit of chocolate. The owner must keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Furthermore, the smaller the dog, the more vulnerable it would be to suffer chocolate poisoning. A Labrador or a Doberman can eat one to two bites of chocolate chip cookie or a few M&Ms per day, and they would most likely not suffer chocolate poisoning. However, a pug or a Maltese could develop an upset stomach from even such small amounts of chocolate.

Will Any Chocolate Kill a Dog?

No, not any chocolate will kill a dog. The highest risk exists when the dog ingests dark chocolate. The high theobromine level in dark chocolate could poison and kill a medium-sized dog who eats not even one ounce of it. That same amount in milk chocolate or white chocolate will not kill that size dog but could be fatal for a small or toy breed dog.

Is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs?

Yes, chocolate is toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains a component of a group of chemicals called methylxanthine, including theobromine and caffeine. Although humans metabolize theobromine and caffeine efficiently, dogs process it slow enough to cause toxic buildup in their systems.

What are the Clinical Signs of Chocolate Poisoning?

The clinical signs of chocolate poisoning depend on several criteria. The type of chocolate and the amount ingested by the dog will determine the severity of the symptoms. Diarrhea and vomiting are typically the first signs of chocolate poisoning. The dog may start panting and be exceptionally thirsty. Excessive urination, restlessness, and a racing heart rate will follow. In severe cases, the dog could suffer complications like seizures, muscle tremors, and heart failure. Furthermore, aspiration pneumonia can be caused by excessive vomiting.

How Long Does it Take Chocolate to Affect Dogs? 

The length of time it takes chocolate to affect dogs could be several hours. Depending on the amount and the type of chocolate, and the size of the dog, it could only become apparent after six to eight hours.

 What is the Treatment for Chocolate Poisoning?

The treatment for chocolate poisoning depends on the severity of the dog’s condition. In some cases, theobromine is reabsorbed from the dog’s bladder. When that happens, intravenous fluid is essential, along with frequent walking to increase urination. Early treatment will include decontamination by inducing vomiting. Activated charcoal may be administered to limit theobromine absorption by the body. Intravenous fluid therapy is typically included in supportive treatment to promote the excretion of theobromine and stabilize the dog.

What Else Can’t Dogs Eat Together with Chocolate?

Dogs cannot eat chocolate and several other foods their owners eat. The list below explains why:

Ice Cream: Commercial ice cream is dangerous for dogs because the ingredients are typically hazardous to dogs. Many dogs do not do well with dairy products because they are lactose intolerant. One or two licks of ice cream would likely be safe for Labradors or German Shepherds, but many varieties contain chocolate and the artificial sweetener, xylitol, both toxic to dogs. Preservatives and synthetic colorants, and flavors can also harm the health of dogs.

Grapes: Dogs cannot eat grapes, or raisins, which are dried grapes, often coated with chocolate. Grapes are highly toxic to dogs. However, researchers have not found what part of the grape makes it so deadly. Therefore, dog owners should not even give a dog a seedless grape, thinking the toxicity is in the grape seeds. Experts warn that even a single grape can cause deadly kidney failure in a dog. Regardless of breed or size, Pekingese to Great Danes can have adverse health consequences from eating grapes.

Cherries: The danger posed by cherries to the health of dogs are in the pits. A cherry pit could cause a blockage, and several pits could cause cyanide poisoning. Dog owners can safely share cherries with their dogs as long as they remove every single pit. A single cherry pit can cause choking in a small dog like a Pomeranian or cause a gastrointestinal blockage. Large dogs like St. Bernards, who ingest several cherries, pits, and all, could develop cyanide poisoning with symptoms like breathing problems, dilated pupils, and red gums.

Cookies: Cookies are not necessarily bad for dogs, especially not those homemade specifically for dogs. The dangerous ones are those bought in the supermarket. They are typically loaded with sugar, salt, chocolate, vanilla, and other artificial flavorings. Furthermore, cookies could contain other risky ingredients for dogs, like raisins, cherries, or chocolate chips, and lookout for xylitol or other toxic synthetic sweeteners. However, occasionally sharing a small bite of a cookie with a pug or a bigger bite with a Schnauzer should be safe. 

Besides chocolate and other foods’ effects on dogs, To learn what dogs can eat, read the related guide.

What Dog Food Recipes Contain Chocolate?

Dog food recipes containing chocolate are not recommended. However, there is a substitute. While cocoa beans give us chocolate, the pods of the carob tree give us carob, powder, chips, and more. With a taste similar to chocolate, carob can be used to replace chocolate in doggy treats.

Use carob powder, coconut oil, and peanut butter to create doggy treats, or mix carob powder with mashed bananas and peanut butter for another healthy treat. Make a frozen fake chocolate treat by mixing carob chips, crunchy peanut butter, and pure homemade applesauce to make unique popsicles for a special furry friend.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.