Warm hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night will cozy anybody right up. Thanks to cocoa powder, humans can enjoy delicious and comforting things such as hot chocolate. Can we share such yummy treats with our dogs too? Surely a dog would not be opposed to a chocolatey snack, but avoid giving them products that contain cocoa powder as it is dangerous to them.

Why is Cocoa Powder Dangerous for Dogs?
Dogs should not eat cocoa powder because it contains theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine and caffeine are highly toxic to dogs and can result in unpleasant symptoms. Dogs cannot quickly metabolize these substances like humans can, so their effects can have a longer duration than in humans. Giving your dog chocolate should be avoided. Chocolate poisoning is one of the most common sources of poisoning in dogs.

What are the Symptoms of Cocoa Powder Poisoning in Dogs?
Poisoning may occur if enough theobromine is consumed by a dog to cause symptoms and these symptoms may take up to 6 hours to appear. Vomiting and diarrhea are common in the first stages of the illness. When a dog is agitated, they may have trouble standing or walking. Symptoms such as rapid breathing, muscular tremors, or stiffness worsen as the disease develops in more seriously afflicted dogs.

Dogs that are young, old, pregnant, or have previous medical conditions may be more affected by cocoa powder poisoning. They will need additional medical attention depending on their previous conditions. Dogs without health concerns should be able to make a full recovery. Your vet will have more information about the recovery process once your dog receives medical attention.

Call your vet and Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 if your dog is experiencing cocoa powder poisoning.

Cocoa Powder Poisoning Treatment
Your vet’s goal will be to flush theobromine and caffeine out of your dog’s systems and address their symptoms. Anti-vomiting medications may be used if your dog is vomiting. Your dog may receive IV fluids to address dehydration. Ask your vet any questions that you may have.

What Other Types of Chocolate Can Poison Dogs?
All types of chocolate contain theobromine and caffeine but in varying concentrations. The below table outlines varying theobromine concentrations in different chocolates.

Product Theobromine
White chocolate 0.25 mg/oz
Milk chocolate 44-60 mg/oz
Dark semisweet 135 mg/oz
Unsweetened baker’s chocolate 390-450 mg/oz
Dry cocoa powder 400-737 mg/oz
Cocoa beans 300-1500 mg/oz
Cocoa bean mulch 56-900 mg/oz