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How Much Chocolate Is Too Much?

We are getting close to Easter, which means that chocolate will be sitting out on tables across the country.  Most dog owners know that chocolate is potentially very toxic to dogs, but a common question that vets hear is “my dog just ate some chocolate, is it enough to make him sick?”

The answer depends on what type of chocolate is involved and how big the dog is.  In general, darker chocolate is the most dangerous.  For example, unsweetened baker’s chocolate contains up to 500 mg/ounce of the potentially toxic substances theobromine and caffeine, while dark semisweet chocolate is in the 155 mg/ounce range, and milk chocolate contains less than 66 mg/ounce.

Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can be seen when a dog ingests around 10 mg of theobromine and caffeine per pound of body weight.  So, if your dog weighs 20 pounds and ate 2 ounces of dark semisweet chocolate- the math works out to 155 mg/ounce times 2 ounces divided by 20 pounds equaling 15.5 mg/pound- which is enough to cause a problem.

Of course, your math skills may not be at their best when you are worried about your dog’s health, so when in doubt, you should still call your veterinarian for guidance.

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