While you’re on the fast track to a candy coma this Halloween, remember that just a small bite could have deadly consequences for your furry friend.

All those rumors about chocolate being bad for dogs are true. Chocolate is never safe for dogs — not even on Halloween. Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs and can even be fatal.

While most of us don’t purposely share things like brownies and chocolate bars with our pets, unfortunately, dogs have a way of sniffing around and finding those foods anyway. This means, you have to be careful, and instruct kids not to share candy with pets, as well.

The best thing to do, is of course, keep candy well out of the reach of dogs — think air tight containers high on top of the refrigerator. Even then, remember that chocolate candy could show up where you least expect it (of all those tiny toddlers walking up and down your driveway, some sweets could have slipped out of their buckets and landed anywhere).

What is Toxicity in Dogs?

Chocolate contains stimulants called methylxanthines, including caffeine. These chemicals cause problems with a dog’s metabolic processes. There is no safe level of chocolate for dogs, but a dog’s tolerance will vary with size and breed.

This is why dogs can't eat chocolate
The holidays are a hazardous time for pets. With chocolate candies and cakes everywhere, pets can easily get into foods that will make them sick or worse.

What Toxicity in Dogs looks like

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you should call your vet immediately. The American Kennel Club lists the following as identifying symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abnormal heart rhythms
  • seizures
  • hyperactivity
  • increased heart rate
  • increased thirst
  • increased blood pressure
  • tremors
  • collapse
  • increased body temperature

How much chocolate becomes worrisome?

Not all chocolate is the same. Knowing how much your dog ate and what kind, and help you and your vet to determine if you have an emergency on your hands.

Dry cocoa powder is the most toxic to dogs, followed by unsweetened baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. White chocolate isn’t very toxic to dogs at all.

The American Kennel Club says that “a potentially lethal dose of chocolate is approximately one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight.” An average Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar is 1.55-ounces, means that eating one candy bar can have serious consequences — especially for small dogs. A crumb of chocolate cake, or a tiny corner of a candy bar isn’t likely to have much effect on your pup, but no chocolate should ever be given as a treat.

There’s probably no need to panic if your dog ingested a tiny amount of chocolate (like a Hershey’s Kiss or two), just keep a close eye on him. Signs of toxicity can appear within 6 to 12 hours after ingestion and may last up to 72 hours.

What to do in an emergency

If you believe your dog ate a potentially damaging level of chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately and/or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for advice on how to proceed.

ALSO SEE: Hamburgers vs. Hot Dogs: Which is healthier?

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.