Can dogs eat chocolate?

Is Chocolate Really that Bad for Dogs?

We're debunking myths. When it comes to dogs and foodstuff - chocolate and dogs is pretty much top of the list.

We as humans love chocolate, naturally. And when Easter and Christmas roll around each year, out rolls this delicious creamy treat.

How tempting for dogs, however we would not advise that you keep chocolates handy in your treat pouch ... Maybe opt for something less toxic.

Heck, we even lay a trail of chocolate eggs on the ground, well, the Easter Bunny does - in PERFECT view of the dog.

And we’ve all been there Easter morning when we discover the dog’s eaten the entire bag of eggs the bunny so generously trailed across the lawn…

Chocolate is commonly at the top of the DNE (Do Not Eat) list for dogs, with claims of its potential toxicity - the prevailing wisdom warns dog owners to keep chocolate WELL out of reach of their pets, citing potential health risks ranging from mild stomach upset to severe poisoning. 

But just how accurate is this warning? Is chocolate truly as harmful to dogs as we've been led to believe, or is it another case of exaggerated caution?

More on exaggerated caution here - in our blog from food nutritionist Victoria, of Pawsome Nutrition.

The Science

At the heart of the matter lies a compound called theobromine, naturally occurring in chocolate. Theobromine belongs to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines, which have stimulant properties. While humans can metabolize theobromine relatively efficiently, dogs process it much more slowly, making them susceptible to its effects.

When dogs ingest chocolate, theobromine can accumulate in their system, leading to a range of adverse reactions..

Okay - so it’s not a beat-up. 

Chocolate Toxicity

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, increased heart rate, tremors, seizures, and in severe cases, even death. The severity of these symptoms depends on factors such as the type and amount of chocolate consumed, as well as the size and health of the dog.

So it's not so straightforward.

Types of Chocolate and Toxicity Levels

Here’s where the lines are blurred, because not all chocolate is created equal. We’re not talking about Cadbury v Lindt, we’re talking about toxicity levels and dogs.

It’s important to break down the chocolate by cocoa level - because that is where the theobromine is contained. 

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains the highest concentration of theobromine - making it most likely to lead to an adverse reaction.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate also contains theobromine - although less than dark chocolate.

White Chocolate

The mighty whit-ey contains the least theobromine.

As a general rule, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the greater the risk to dogs.

For example, baking chocolate can contain up to 16 times more theobromine than milk chocolate, making it significantly more dangerous if ingested by a dog. On the other hand, white chocolate, which contains minimal cocoa solids, possesses a much lower risk of theobromine toxicity.

Other Factors: Size of Dog, Amount  of Chocolate Ingested

The size of the dog and the amount of chocolate ingested play crucial roles in determining the severity of the poisoning.

Smaller dogs are at higher risk because it takes less theobromine to reach toxic levels in their bodies.

As little as 20 milligrams of theobromine per pound of body weight can be lethal to dogs, although toxicity can occur at lower levels depending on individual sensitivity.

Assessing the Risk

While the dangers of chocolate to dogs are real and should not be dismissed lightly, it's important to keep the risk in perspective. Many cases of chocolate ingestion in dogs result in only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, especially if the amount consumed is small and the dog is relatively large.

However, any suspected ingestion of chocolate by a dog should be taken seriously. Prompt treatment can help mitigate the effects of chocolate toxicity and improve the chances of a positive outcome.

The bottom line? Don’t risk it.

But don’t fret, it’s not all doom and gloom - there are some tasty chocolate alternatives…

Safe Alternatives to Chocolate For Dogs:

Carob: Carob is a dog-friendly alternative to chocolate that comes from the carob tree. It has a similar taste and texture to chocolate but lacks theobromine, making it safe for dogs to consume.

Check out the Get Wag carob drops for dogs.

Dog-safe chocolate treats:

Many pet stores offer a wide range of chocolate-flavoured treats specifically formulated for dogs. These treats mimic the taste of chocolate without containing any cocoa or theobromine, ensuring they are safe for canine consumption.

Peanut butter:

Peanut butter is a beloved treat for many dogs and can be used as a safe and tasty alternative to chocolate. Look for natural peanut butter without added sugar or xylitol, as these ingredients can be harmful to dogs.

Yogurt drops:

Yogurt drops made specifically for dogs are another delicious alternative to chocolate treats. These treats are typically made with yoghurt and other dog-safe ingredients, providing a sweet and creamy snack without the risks associated with chocolate.
Check out Get Wag’s yoghurt drop treats here.

Save the snickers for yourself. Get your dog some carob, store them in your treat pouch and avoid the risk!
Back to blog
Staffy in Ruby Red Dog Harness

You're Now Ready

You've done your research, have read our blogs and are now well equipped and ready to explore our range.

Let's Go