Fact Checker: Can Eating Chocolate Kill a Dog?

Fact Checker: Can Eating Chocolate Kill a Dog?

Myths, lies and old wives’ tales loom large in the outdoor pursuits. Here at MeatEater, we’re dedicated to separating facts from bullsh*t, so we created this series to examine suspect yarns. If there’s a belief, rumor, or long-held assumption you’d like us to fact check, drop us a note at factchecker@themeateater.com.

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can kill them if they consume too much.

This claim has been around for as long as chocolate bars and chocolate Labs have been a part of the American lifestyle. According to Vets Now, a veterinary information website, 94% of pet owners believe “chocolate is poisonous to dogs.”

Chocolate contains theobromine, which canines have trouble metabolizing but humans do not. A mild buildup of theobromine will lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and too much can cause muscle tremors, seizures, irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, and heart attacks.

Dark chocolate contains much higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate, so it takes far more of the light stuff to be lethal. To ingest a fatal amount of theobromine, a 75-pound Lab would need to eat six milk chocolate bars versus just two and a half dark chocolate bars.

Despite the serious consequences that chocolate poisoning can have, lethal incidents aren’t all that common according to Dr. Seth Bynum, a bird dog specialist at Lewistown Veterinary Clinic. He said it would take the perfect storm of a tiny dog, lots of dark chocolate, and a neglectful owner to cause death.

“I’ve never seen one die, and I don’t think anyone at this clinic has either,” Dr. Bynum said. “I’ve treated many dogs with chocolate exposure, but other than a bad case of the jitters and GI issues, they’ve all been OK.”

Accidents happen. If your dog gets into a big batch of chocolate, the best thing you can do is go to a vet right away. When caught early enough, they’ll be able to induce vomiting and curb most of the side effects. But if it’s only a few Hershey’s Kisses, your dog will probably just get the Hershey’s squirts.


LZ Jacket
Save this product
First Lite

A full-season waterproof Waterfowl jacket designed to fit over varying degrees of insulating layers to keep you warm down to 30°F. The LZ is patterned for wing-shooting with heavily articulated arms and specialty pocketing optimized for security and quick access to essential gear.

Refuge Bib
Save this product
First Lite

A Waterfowl bib built for performance in the extreme cold of late season field hunting with a robust insulation package, durable waterproof/windproof fabrication, and an extensive feature set optimized for pit and layout blinds.

Omen Stormshelter Pant
Save this product
First Lite

When the forecast is grim and unpredictable at best, but you still have a tag in hand, the Omen Stormshelter is a foul weather stronghold that you can trust. Built to be uncompromising in weather resistance and durability, the Omen system is the solution for mid to late-season hunts when persistent varying precipitation, wind, and low temps are the only guarantee. 

Origin Hoody
Save this product
First Lite

A lightweight, quiet mid-layer designed to be utilized as both an outerwear piece as well as a layering option as temperatures drop.

Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content and gear
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
Your one-stop for everything waterfowl, with Sean Weaver
Get out on the water with the MeatEater Fishing crew
Technical hunting apparel
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls
Save this article