Can dogs or cats eat chocolate?

May 25, 2023
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.

Can dogs eat chocolate?

Dogs love chocolate, but it's also widely recognized that consuming chocolate can be incredibly harmful to their health. The biggest reason for this is theobromine, an alkaloid which is toxic to dogs and present in all forms of chocolate. (The caffeine in chocolate is harmful to dogs as well.)

The danger level of chocolate ingestion depends on several factors such as the amount and type of chocolate consumed. For instance, darker chocolates generally contain more theobromine, and therefore tend to be even more toxic than lighter chocolates. The size and weight of your dog can also be a factor: Smaller dogs may not need to ingest as much chocolate as larger dogs before becoming dangerously ill. (Though to be clear, any amount of chocolate ingestion should be treated as an urgent medical matter, regardless of your dog's weight.)

While milder toxic reactions may only lead to mild symptoms like throwing up or diarrhea, more serious poisonings can result in severe sickness or even death.

Symptoms of toxicity in dogs include hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, rapid heartbeat, increased urination or thirst and restlessness. If left unaddressed, these symptoms may progress into more serious issues including cardiac arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden death.

The bottom line: Dogs may love chocolate, but you should never, ever let them eat it.

Can cats eat chocolate?

Chocolate is one of the most popular treats in the world, but it can be deadly for cats. The biggest reason is that chocolate contains an alkaloid called theobromine, which is toxic to cats because they cannot digest it properly. (The caffeine in chocolate is harmful to cats as well.) When consumed in large enough quantities, even a small amount of chocolate can cause serious health problems or even death.

Symptoms of chocolate ingestion in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness and hyperactivity. In more severe cases, seizures and muscle tremors may occur as well. If you suspect that your cat has eaten any type of chocolate or cocoa product at all, it's important to seek veterinary help immediately.

The severity of symptoms will depend on several factors including how much chocolate was consumed and how long ago it was ingested. The size and weight of your cat also plays a role in determining how chocolate will effect their bodies: Smaller cats may not need to ingest as much chocolate as larger cats before becoming dangerously ill. (Though to be clear, any amount of chocolate ingestion should be treated as an urgent medical matter, regardless of your cat's weight. And keep in mind that most cats tend to be small enough to suffer serious health effects from even miniscule amounts of chocolate ingestion.)

To prevent accidental consumption by curious felines, store all chocolates away from pets' reach, preferably in locked cabinets or other secure locations where they cannot gain access to them easily. It's always important to read ingredient labels before giving any food item to your pet, so as not to unintentionally expose them to harmful substances like those present in chocolates.

Information Purposes Only

The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for pet-specific advice from your veterinarian. Never disregard your vet’s recommendations, or delay in acting on them, based on something you have read on this site. Regardless of how a food is rated here, any food that you give your pet can pose potential health risks, including allergic reactions, choking, or other health conditions such as bloat. Always monitor your pet while they’re eating, and never introduce a new food into your pet’s diet without first consulting your veterinarian. 

Pet Poison Emergency Protocol

If your pet is acting sick, call your regular veterinarian immediately. If your regular veterinarian is closed, call a nearby on-call veterinarian, animal urgent care, or veterinary emergency hospital. If your pet is not acting sick but you think they may have been exposed to a poison, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).

Food Safety Statuses


Could be given almost daily without harm

Safe in moderation

Not toxic, but should not be given regularly


Toxic or simply too risky to give to your pet