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How Much Chocolate Can Make Your Pooch Sick (or Worse) This Halloween?

Tim Boyer's picture
FDA reminds pet owners hazards of chocolate in the home

Here’s a Halloween reminder from the FDA on how much chocolate can actually make your pooch sick―or even die―from chocolate-related toxicity.


We’ve all heard it before time and time again, but with the increase in dog ownership worldwide in many cities, it bears repeating for first-time new pet owners and homes with children who are going trick or treating this Halloween―Chocolate is toxic to dogs and it can kill them!

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs? Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound in the same family as caffeine and theophylline (an asthma drug). In certain quantities, theobromine is toxic to dogs because a dog’s bio-physiology does not process the theobromine in chocolate like a human’s does, and therefore remains long enough in a dog’s body to cause toxicity.

Here’s an informative video clip from a veterinarian on why chocolate is toxic to dogs:

Why is Chocolate Toxic to Dogs? - Vets Now Pet Safety Advice

Chocolate Toxicity is Mostly about Numbers

There are basically four factors that determine whether a dog will have a toxic reaction from eating chocolate:

The size of the dog—bigger is generally better for toxicity and tolerance. However, if a large dog is older or has other health issues, what’s toxic to a much smaller dog may be toxic to a bigger dog as well.

The type of chocolate the dog ate—chocolate products have quite a bit of range in theobromine concentration. For example, dark baking chocolate contains 390 mg/oz.; Semisweet chocolate chips contain 150 mg/oz.; and, Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per oz.

The amount of chocolate the dog ate—the less they eat the better; however, it’s not always easy to know exactly how much was eaten. Make your best honest estimation, and relay that number to your vet.

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Whether the dog in question is extra sensitive to theobromine―While the first three factors are a numbers game, a pet’s sensitivity to theobromine is an unknown and so it is better to err on the side of caution in assuming that your pet is very sensitive to theobromine and seek a veterinarian to make what could be a life and death determination.

Typical Halloween Chocolate Candy Theobromine Levels

Peanut M&M's / 1 cup (170g) / 184mg theobromine
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar / 1.55 oz. (43g) / 64mg theobromine
Hershey's KISSES (Milk Chocolate) / 9 pieces / 61mg theobromine
KIT KAT Wafer Bar / 1 bar (42 g) / 48.7mg theobromine
REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups (2pk) / 2 cups (45g) / 32.4mg theobromine
Milky Way / 1 bar (58g) / 37.1 mg theobromine

For some online help, here is a Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter to help you have some idea of whether or not your dog ate enough chocolate to be toxic. However, only a veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis and should be consulted whenever your dog eats any chocolate regardless of the amount.

So this Halloween, make sure to keep an eye on your children and your “fur kids” and the chocolates in your home to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday.

For more about dog safety, here are some selected articles on how to keep your pooch safe and healthy:

Protect Your Pet by Teaching Your Children About Chocolate Safety

One Important Shot Your Dog Needs Before You Go On Vacation

Top Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe and Satisfied at Dining Table

Reference: FDA.gov “Leave Chocolate Out of Rover's Celebrations

Image courtesy of Pixabay