Question about dogs and chocolate

I’ve always heard that chocolate is bad for dogs.

But what about something low in “chocolate concentration”? See, I went to Dairy Queen this evening and got a simple cone with chocolate flavored soft serve. When I got home it was half eaten, but the dog begged me so I gave him a couple spoonsful, just a taste.

Did I endanger my dog? I hope not, it’s just that I’m a sucker for those brown eyes, when he begs.

Many people know that theobromine is poisonous to dogs, but really, it’s nearly as poisonous to humans, too. It’s mostly only a worry for dogs because they tend to have lower body mass than humans, and will gorge themselves much more than humans will. No human will eat ten pounds of chocolate at one sitting, but a dog just might.

As with everything, the dose makes the poison. Your dog should be just fine. Honestly, I’d be more worried about lactose intolerance than the chocolate.

Can anyone explain this?:

Many years ago, one of my aunts had a poodle (yeah, the doctor died of shock :rolleyes:) that loved bite-size 3 Musketeers–and I don’t mean the postage stamp sized ones we have now, either. When we would go for a visit, poodle would get 4 or 5 of them, and didn’t seem worse for the wear. Poodle died at age 18 from hernia complications; probably from being corpulent via Musketeers bars. Now back then (mid '60s to mid '70s) you never heard anything about poisonous choco and dogs. My only guess is the minimal amount of chocolate in a 3M bite-size. Any other suggestions/theories?


I think Chronos’ post, above yours, explains it pretty well. Your guess is correct. The layer of chocolate on a Three Musketeers is pretty thin, after all.
As for chocolate flavored soft serve, well, I rather doubt whether there is any actual chocolate in it at all.

Also, the 3 Musketeers bars are milk chocolate which has a lower theobromine concentration. High quality dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are far more dangerous.

A few years ago I was told by well-meaning friends to be sure to never give my dog chocolate as it would kill her in horrible ways. Well, we always gave our dogs small amounts of chocolate when I was a kid and it never caused any problems.

I looked it up, did the math, I found that I needed to feed my 60 lbs dog close to 5 lbs (!) of milk chocolate to poison her.

Chocolate isn’t a problem unless you have a small dog and it gets into a good size stash of dark chocolate (dark chocolate has a higher concentration of theobromine).

The basic rule I read is one ounce per pound of body weight of milk chocolate, and about only a tenth of that for baker’s chocolate for toxicity. I’m not sure if “toxicity” means LD50 here or just you’d better see a vet pronto. At any rate, I remember being surprised at how little Bakers chocolate could cause big problems.

Here is an interactive chart to determine the amount of various chocolate types that dogs can eat before having side effects (up to death).

I use cocoa powder when I make chili. Last month while I was making it I had the jar of powder on my kitchen island within reach of my Beagle. She jumped up, knocked it on the floor, and grabbed a big mouthful of it. I scolded her, cleaned it up, and didn’t plan to give it much more thought because it didn’t look like she got much.

Not long after, she started throwing up and shaking uncontrollably. She wouldn’t leave my side and was clearly in distress. I found this site: at Pet MD which showed that just 1 oz (2 TB) of cocoa powder was a severe dose for a dog her size. So, off to the emergency vet hospital we went.

They induced vomiting, gave her an IV and medications, and had her spend the night to be monitored. She ended up fine in the end, but it was sure scary along the way.

So yes, if you look at that website I linked above you can see that many chocolates aren’t very dangerous, but don’t assume that chocolate isn’t dangerous. Dark and unprocessed is very dangerous and can quickly kill a dog.

Wow. Frazzled is right about the cocoa powder. Just over 2 oz of it will give my 65 lb dog tremors and seizures. Yipes. Or 4 oz of baking chocolate.

It’s not just about the weight difference between humans and dogs.


Serious poisoning happens more frequently in domestic animals, which metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans, and can easily consume enough chocolate to cause chocolate poisoning. If large numbers of filled chocolate candies are consumed another serious danger is posed by the fat and sugar in the fillings which can sometimes trigger life threatening pancreatitis several days later. The most common victims of theobromine poisoning are dogs,[3][4][5] for which it can be fatal. The toxic dose for cats is even lower than for dogs. However, cats are less prone to eating chocolate since they are unable to taste sweetness.[6] Theobromine is less toxic to rats, mice, and humans, who all have an LD50 of about 1,000 mg/kg.

Cecil has addressed this, although the column available online seems to have been edited, since it includes a followup letter that claims “you mention” something that doesn’t appear in the version we have here.

I would have thought that the poor dog’s teeth would have dissolved from all that sugar.

Thank you for the replies. I’m not going to worry over this one little thing, I should probably not respond to the begging though.


Fortunately for the poodle, we only saw my aunt’s family for about a week once a year. Good point about the sugar, since it probably WAS sugar and not that Godawful corn syrup they use now. I’m afraid to try the “retro” Mountain Dew (original recipe with, I believe, cane sugar) for fear I’ll get the shakes and my teeth will vibrate right out of my skull. :smiley:

On the other hand, I once had a 30-pound cocker spaniel who twice managed to get up on a table/counter to consume an entire batch of brownies. That probably figures out to at least twice the exposure (by weight).

Apart from a truly loathsome case of chocolaty diarrhea on both occasions, she was fine.