Chocolate's and Dogs

I read a post on toxicity of chocolate and dogs. I understand the possibilities of death due to a dog eating chocolate, but seriously name me one dog that has ever died of eating chocolate.


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Fido? Rex? Rover?

Despite my best efforts, all I could find were near misses, e.g. Daisy and Rags. I think we might need the superior skills of a Duck Duck Goose here.

From the Encyclopedia of Canine Veterinary Medical Information:

It takes a fairly large amount of chocolate to cause problems. In “The Handbook of Small Animal Practice” by Dr. Rhea Morgan, the following data is given:

The toxic dose of theobromine is about 100 to 150mg/kg

Milk chocolate contains 6mg of theobromine per ounce. Semi-sweet chocolate contains about 22mg/oz. and baking chocolate about 35 to 45mg/oz.

From this it is pretty easy to see that milk chocolate poses only a minor threat while the other forms of chocolate can be a bigger problem.

In severe cases, seizures or cardiac arrest can occur. Death can result from severe intoxication.

So, most of the time, it probably takes a pretty good amount of chocolate to actually kill a dog; a small greedy dog would likely be more at risk. Individual susceptibility could vary quite a bit.

Since the OP requested a specific case example of canine death by chocolate, here it is:

“I’ve seen one,” said his veterinary assistant. “I was working over at the emergency animal clinic one night when somebody brought in a Setter that had eaten half a chocolate bar. The vet on duty did his best, but the dog died.”

The article then goes on to interview a vet at the National Animal Poison Control Center. According to Dr. William Buck (professor at the University of Illinois, director of the NAPCC, and respected veterinary toxicologist):

“A typical poisoning incident happens around Easter or Christmas, when there are a lot of chocolates around the house. The family has a gathering, the candies are set out on the table, then everyone drives off to visit someone else, and the dog feels neglected. The dog jumps up on the dining room table finds the chocolates, and eats enough of them to get a lethal dose.”

So, there you are. I’m sure there’s someone out there who will pipe up that they occasionally treat their dog with a bit of chocolate, and Fido is still just fine. That just goes back to the individual variation thing, and should not be considered typical. I would venture that death by chocolate, while uncommon, probably does happen more frequently than one might suspect.

I particularly liked Dr. Buck’s explanation of just why chocolate is so especially bad for dogs:
"Dogs are particularly sensitive to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines, and caffeine and the obromine are members of that family. Dogs simply cannot metabolize and excrete methylxanthines as efficiently as humans can. The half-life of those compounds in the human body is on the order of two to three hours; the half-life in a dog is more like18 hours. What happens in a dog is that the compounds are taken up by the liver, transmitted via the bile into the intestine, and then converted back into the original methylxanthines for another circuit through the animal. This repeats itself a number of times. Instead of getting rid of the substance, the dog keeps re-poisoning himself. "

Lethal dosages aside, a good general rule is that one should never give a dog any chocolate ever, since even very small amounts could make the dog quite sick. Most people find cleaning up the aftermath of a bout of explosive diarrhea a most persuasive argument to concede this point.

The Encyclopedia of Canine Veterinary Medical Information is available at: