The simple answer to the question ‘can dogs eat chocolate?’, is no – your dog should not eat chocolate. In this article, we look at why chocolate is bad for your dog and what happens if they eat it.

Why can't dogs eat chocolate?

Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which is poisonous for dogs. Dogs cannot metabolise this easily, unlike humans, so a build up can occur resulting in toxic levels in their bodies. Different types of chocolate contain different quantities of theobromine. Generally, the darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content. So dark chocolates and cocoa powder are much higher in content than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of theobromine.

What happens if a dog eats chocolate?

Chocolate poisoning or theobromine toxicity can result in your dog vomiting, having diarrhoea, being hyperactive and panting with an increased heart rate, and possibly suffering seizures. The severity of the symptoms seen will depend on the size of your dog and the amount of theobromine ingested. If large amounts of theobromine have been eaten then this can result in muscle tremors and seizures, internal bleeding or a heart attack. Symptoms will usually be seen up to four hours after the chocolate. Quite often, the first sign of theobromine poisoning is hyperactivity.

How much chocolate is dangerous to a dog?

Some dogs will eat a small amount of chocolate and show no symptoms, but this does not change the fact that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. Other dogs will eat a small amount of chocolate, resulting in an upset tummy with some sickness and diarrhoea. There is a theory that some breeds are more susceptible to chocolate poisoning than other breeds. As theobromine doses increase, so do the risks and effects of theobromine poisoning. The best approach is to make sure your dog is not given any chocolate, and cannot get access to any chocolate.

What to do if your dog has eaten chocolate

 If you know your dog has eaten a lot of chocolate, get in touch with your vet immediately.

If you are worried that your dog has eaten chocolate and is showing any symptoms related to chocolate poisoning and theobromine toxicity, get in touch with your vet immediately.

The sooner you can get to the vet, the sooner action can be taken. It will help your vet if you can tell them what type of chocolate has been eaten, how much has been eaten, and when it was eaten. If there are any wrappers or packaging that you can show the vet, then take these with you also. Most likely, if your dog ate the chocolate within the last few hours, your vet will make your dog vomit. Other treatment option will depend on signs, symptoms and your dog. A dog who is treated quickly should have a good prognosis.

Keep your chocolate hidden all year round

We have looked at why your dog can’t eat chocolate, and what you should do if they manage to get hold of any. Certain times of the year such as Easter can be tricky, as chocolate is everywhere, so make sure to keep your kids’ Easter eggs hidden away! Your pet can enjoy some other healthy treats instead, or you could set up a special dog-friendly Easter hunt just for him. Check out our ideas here. Here at Oscar & Hooch, you can also find a range of doggy essentials including  collars, leads . That have all been lovingly handmade in the UK from ultra-soft fabrics.

Can Dogs Eat Chocolate FAQs

Is there a safe chocolate substitute for dogs?

Yes, there's a chocolate substitute called carob that is safe for dogs, as it lacks theobromine and caffeine. Carob beans are also naturally sweet!

How quickly does chocolate affect dogs?

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning will usually show within 6 to 12 hours, however, they could appear within just one hour.

Will a few licks of chocolate hurt my dog?

Any ingestion of chocolate is bad for your dog, even a small dose could potentially be toxic.

Can dogs eat cheese?

It's safe to feed your dog cheese, and it can be given as an occasional treat in moderation. However, as cheese is high in fat, feeding too much to your dog regularly can cause weight gain.