My Dog Ate Chocolate: What Should I Do?

Four minutes
Mar 04, 2024

Chocolate is a major part of several celebrations. Whether it's Easter candy, Christmas chocolate Santas, or Halloween goodies pulled out of a pillowcase, chocolate is a common treat for many people.

Pet parents should be wary of this yummy treat because chocolate is a major toxin for dogs. Let’s discuss why that is and what to do if your pup gets into your sweet stash.

Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Yes, chocolate is bad for dogs. They shouldn’t be given chocolate under any circumstances because it contains harmful compounds — theobromine and caffeine — that elevate a dog’s heart rate and stimulate their nervous system.¹ Chocolate poisoning can potentially cause life-threatening complications in dogs. In fact, deaths have been reported in animals that have eaten mulch made from cocoa bean hulls.¹

So skip this treat, and keep it far away from your dog. There are dozens of other foods that are safe for your dogs to eat.

What To Do if Your Dog Ate Chocolate

It’s best not to attempt first aid at home. Pet parents should act fast and get their dogs to an emergency vet if they notice any adverse symptoms. Take the chocolate’s packaging with you to the vet, so they can determine how much of the toxin your pet consumed.

While at the clinic, your pet may be stabilized with medications and fluids. Vomiting may be induced with activated charcoal or peroxide if your pet hasn’t expelled the chocolate on their own.¹ Your vet may choose to hospitalize your dog for up to 72 hours for severe cases.1

This can be a very stressful time for pet parents, and the last thing you want to worry about is the bill. Investing in dog insurance could help during an emergency like this, so you can focus more on ensuring your dog returns to their old, happy self rather than the cost of their care.

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My Dog Ate Chocolate. How Long Before Symptoms Set In?

Typically, signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs begin within 6 – 12 hours after consumption. Initially, your dog may exhibit symptoms like excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.1 As the condition worsens, the following progressed symptoms may appear:1

In extreme cases, additional symptoms may include:1

  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bluish tinge to skin and gums
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Coma

My Dog Ate Chocolate But Is Acting Fine. Why Is That?

The good news is chocolate isn’t always fatal for dogs. There are instances where dogs eat chocolate and are just fine. The main reasons why this is the case is because not all chocolates are created equal, and every dog is different.

Chocolate toxicity in dogs can vary

The level of theobromine and caffeine toxicity will differ by chocolate type. Darker chocolates typically contain higher amounts of theobromine than lighter chocolates. This means baking chocolate and dark chocolate will generally be the most hazardous to dogs.2

To better understand the risks, here’s a breakdown of theobromine and caffeine concentrations in various chocolate products. These amounts are based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimations.3,2

Chocolate Type

Theobromine Concentration

Caffeine Concentration

Baking chocolate (unsweetened squares)

~377 mg/oz

~23.2 mg/oz

Dark chocolate (70% – 85% cacao)

~227 mg/oz

~22.7 mg/oz

Dry cocoa powder (unsweetened)

~222 mg/oz

~24.8 mg/oz

Semisweet chocolate

~138 mg/oz

~17.6 mg/oz

Milk chocolate

~58.2 mg/oz

~5.7 mg/oz

White chocolate

~0.25 mg/oz

~0 mg/oz

Additionally, your dog’s weight impacts how the chocolate affects their body. Small dogs are more susceptible to chocolate poisoning than larger dogs. For example, a Great Dane who munches on a chocolate chip cookie may not react the same as a shih tzu.

Even if your dog is acting fine, it doesn’t hurt to call your vet. They can use a dog chocolate toxicity calculator to determine how much of the toxins your pet consumed compared to their body weight.4 After that, they may ask you to monitor your dog for any signs of poisoning.

MetLife Pet Insurance Is Ready To Help in an Emergency

Chocolate poisoning in dogs can be a scary thing for pet parents to experience. Symptoms can set in within hours of consumption — and given how commonplace chocolate can be in our lives, the dangers seem to be lurking everywhere.

When it matters most, a pet insurance policy can help protect your pet and your wallet. For instance, when Butters, a mixed-breed puppy from New York, got into some chocolate-covered raisins, her parents took her to the vet for an exam. The cost of the toxicity exam was $3,000, but with their MetLife Pet policy, Butters’ parents were reimbursed $2,000, saving them approximately 67%.5

Don’t let vet bills stand in the way of what matters. Take a moment to get a free quote, so you can continue keeping your best pal healthy and safe.

We can help handle the vet bill.
You handle the belly rubs.

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Food Hazards (chocolate),” Merck Veterinary Manual

2 “Can Dogs Eat White Chocolate?” Pet Poison Helpline

3 “FoodData Central (Food Search),” U.S. Department of Agriculture

4 “Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter,” PetMD,

5 All claims paid amounts are based on MetLife Pet internal claims data from October 2022. Story altered for illustrative purposes.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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