Dog Chocolate Toxicity Calculator

Did your dog eat some chocolate!? Estimate how toxic of a dose they consumed using the chocolate toxicity calculator below.

Estimated Chocolate Toxicity Level:

Methylxanthine Dose

 
mg/kg

Total Methylxanthine Consumed

 
mg
 
Toxicity levels are an estimate based on the average amounts of methylxanthine in the typical sample of the type of chocolate selected, actual amounts may vary.
Learn how we calculated this below


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Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?

The answer is no! Unlike people avoiding chocolate to avoid gaining body weight, chocolate is toxic to dogs due to the amount of the compounds theobromine and caffeine, which are both harmful to dogs because these toxins increase their heart rate and stimulate the nervous system.[1]

Dogs’ bodies process these compounds very slowly compared to humans compounding the problem.

The consumption of theobromine and caffeine by a dog can result in several clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, restlessness, excessive urination, racing heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.[2] The severity of a dog’s clinical signs due to chocolate toxicity is dependent on how much and what type of chocolate they consume.

Dog trying to eat a box of chocolates

Clinical signs might present quickly, within just a few hours, or they may not be present for several hours. They generally last for several hours to days, depending on the dose.

While not all dogs will experience negative effects from eating chocolate, owners to not take toxicities seriously for the safety of the pet.

How Much Chocolate Can a Dog Eat?

So, just how much chocolate can a dog eat without serious health risks? This question is exactly why we developed the calculator above.

The level of toxicity and severity of the clinical signs from eating chocolate will vary depending on the size of the dog, the amount of chocolate they ate, and the type of chocolate they ate.[3]

A smaller dog that ate a larger portion of dark chocolate will experience much worse illness than a larger dog that ate a smaller portion of milk chocolate, for example.

Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of methylxanthines, such as theobromine and caffeine. Typically, darker and more bitter chocolates have a higher methylxanthine content compared to sweetened or lighter chocolates.

How to Calculate the Toxicity of Chocolate in Dogs

The size of the dose of methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) compared to the dog’s size will impact how severe their clinical signs are and how toxic the chocolate consumption will be.

According to the ASPCA, mild illness from theobromine poisoning can be experienced with a methylxanthine level of just 20 mg/kg. Severe clinical signs are often seen with a level of 40 mg/kg, and dogs can experience seizures with a level of 60 mg/kg. For roughly half of dogs, a level of 100-200 mg/kg can be fatal.[4] These doses represent the amount of methylxanthines consumed per kilogram of the dog’s weight.

How to Calculate the Methylxanthine Dose

We can calculate the methylxanthine dose that a dog has ingested by using a simple formula:[5]

methylxanthine dose = chocolate consumed in ounces × (theobromine per ounce + caffeine per ounce)
individual methylxanthine dose = methylxanthine dose ÷ dog’s body weight in kilograms

Thus, the methylxanthine dose for a dog is equal to the total dose of theobromine and caffeine, divided by the dog’s body weight in kilograms.

Refer to the chart below to find the amount of theobromine and caffeine per ounce for the specific chocolate the dog has consumed.

Methylxanthine Levels in Chocolate

The table below shows how much theobromine and caffeine are in various forms of chocolate.[6]

Chart showing the amount of theobromine and caffeine in various types of chocolate.
Type of Chocolate Theobromine (mg/oz) Caffeine (mg/oz)
white chocolate 0.25 0.85
milk chocolate 58.0 6.0
dark, sweet chocolate 130.0 20.0
semi-sweet chocolate chips 138.0 22.0
baker’s unsweetened chocolate 393.0 47.0
dry cocoa powder 737.0 70.0
instant cocoa powder 136.0 15.0
cocoa beans 600.0 N/A

Please note that this is not medical advice; always consult your veterinarian for their recommendation on how to treat your pet or if your pet experiences any symptoms. You can also call the ASPCA poison control hotline (888) 426-4435, which is an amazing resource for pet owners in the U.S.[7]

References

  1. American Kennel Club, What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/what-to-do-if-your-dog-ate-chocolate/
  2. Schmid, R. DVM, and Brutlag, A. DVM, Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs, VCA Animal Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/chocolate-poisoning-in-dogs
  3. Fernandez, C. DVM, Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?, PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/4-types-chocolate-and-how-they-impact-dogs
  4. McVean, B.Sc., My Dog Ate Chocolate and He Was Fine, so What’s the Big Deal?, Aug 23, 2019, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health/my-dog-ate-chocolate-and-he-was-fine-so-whats-big-deal
  5. Baldwin, K. LVT, VTS (ECC), Management of Chocolate Intoxication, https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?id=3866120&pid=11262
  6. Gwaltney-Brant, S, Chocolate intoxication, Veterinary Medicine, 2001, 96, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265745010_Chocolate_intoxication
  7. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Poison Control, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control