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Is Hot Chocolate Powder Dangerous to Dogs? 

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Yes, hot chocolate powder is toxic to dogs, due to the chocolate content present in the mixture. Especially theobromine can upset your dog, and in severe cases cause death. However, as it’s typically mixed with other ingredients, it’s less damaging than pure cocoa.

It’s well-known that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But what about hot chocolate powder?

The toxicity dogs experience after consuming chocolate is caused by a pair of chemical compounds from the methylxanthine class naturally present in cacao: theobromine and caffeine

Dogs aren’t able to metabolize methylxanthines nearly as well as humans and especially struggle with theobromine. This is what makes chocolate-based products dangerous for them. 

So, what happens when dogs ingest theobromine? And what about how chocolate powder?

In this article, we’ll discuss what to do, if your dog ingests hot chocolate powder.

What Happens if Dogs Eat Hot Chocolate Powder?

Several things can happen if dogs eat hot chocolate powder. Depending on how much chocolate has been consumed, the effects can range from no symptoms to clear signs of toxicity. An extreme dose can potentially be fatal. 

The risk associated with dogs consuming hot chocolate powder stems from the cacao powder it contains. However, not all hot chocolates are made the same, and recipes will differ in their concentrations of cacao. 

A powder mix with a low cacao content will be less harmful to your dog, but should still be avoided altogether. 

The extent of damage caused will be determined primarily by 2 factors: 

  • The amount of hot chocolate powder consumed in relation to the size of the dog.
  • The concentration of cacao in the powder. 

The concentration of cacao is especially important since cocoa is what contains toxic components, most notably theobromine.[1]

hot chocolate powder

Is Chocolate Poisonous to Dogs?

Chocolate is extremely poisonous for dogs, even at small doses. The contained chemical compounds theobromine and caffeine are the culprits for this. 

The concentration of theobromine tends to be around 3-10 times more than that of caffeine in chocolate, with a half-life of about 17.5 hours compared to 4.5 for caffeine[2]. This is what makes it by far the more harmful of the two agents in this equation.

The issue is that since dogs take so long to metabolize and excrete these stimulating compounds, there is a risk of overaccumulation and potential overdose.[3]

Purer forms of chocolate, such as dark chocolate, will have a higher concentration of these stimulating drugs. In other words, the purer the chocolate, the less a dog will need to eat for it to suffer the consequences.

dark chocolate

Is Hot Chocolate Powder Poisonous to Dogs?

Due to the chocolate content in the hot chocolate powder, it is poisonous for dogs. However, since most powders are diluted by other ingredients, they are less dangerous than pure cacao powder.

How Much Cocoa Powder Will Harm a Dog?

The amount of cocoa powder needed to cause harm to dogs will vary on the purity of the powder as well as the size of the dog.

Purer forms of cocoa powder, such as Dutch cocoa, can contain as high as 26mg of theobromine per gram[4]

Usually, chocolate toxicosis symptoms will begin to materialize between 6-12 hours after a dog has consumed at least around 20mg of theobromine per kg of its weight. 

This means that you can expect a 10kg dog to begin showing mild symptoms after having consumed less than 10 grams (under 2 tbsp) of pure cocoa powder. Sensitivity to theobromine will vary depending on the dog.

TheobromineSymptoms
20 mg/kg or lessMild Symptoms
20-50 mg/kgToxic with harsher symptoms
50-100 mg/kgSevere symptoms/extreme danger
100 mg/kg or moreExtreme symptoms/lethal
cocoa powder

How Much Hot Chocolate Powder Can Kill a Dog?

It is not simple to quickly determine how much hot chocolate powder is lethal for a dog, but here are some steps you can take to gauge how vulnerable your dog might be. Generally, 100 to 200 mg/kg theobromine is lethal.[5]

First, you should figure out what proportion of the powder mixture is made up of cacao. Using that information, you should be able to roughly estimate how much theobromine has been ingested by your dog (it’s safer calculating to the upside). 

Now, by dividing the amount of theobromine in mg by the weight of your dog in kg, you should get an idea of whether or not your dog will experience chocolate toxicosis, and to what degree.

For example, let’s take a 20kg dog that has eaten 30grams of hot chocolate powder. 

First you should go through the ingredients list of the product and try to find how much cacao powder is in those 30grams. If it is not labeled on the product, try checking online. 

Let’s say you are able to determine that the powder is 50% comprised of cacao. That would imply that your dog has consumed about 15g of cacao powder. 

Assuming that it’s of a purer variety, we can calculate 15g of cacao powder x 30mg of theobromine per gram of cacao powder. That would equal 450mg of theobromine. 

Finish by dividing 450mg by 20kg and you have 22.5mg/kg consumed by your dog, which entails mild symptoms to come.

IngredientAmount
30 grams of hot chocolate powder15 grams of cocoa
15g of cocoa450 milligrams of theobromine
450mg of theobromine22.5 mg/kg (mild symptoms)
sick dog

What Is in Hot Chocolate Powder?

The base ingredients for hot chocolate powder are cacao, sugar, and a creamer. Other spices and ingredients may be added to modify the flavor. The percent composition of each ingredient will vary depending on the manufacturing process. 

Though cacao is what is most hazardous for dogs, creamers and sugar do not provide optimal nutrition in a dog diet and can contribute to obesity amongst other diseases.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Many dogs can tolerate a dosage of less than 20mg of theobromine per kg of bodyweight. If more than 20mg/kg is absorbed, you should expect to see the initial symptoms. 

Here are the general symptoms of chocolate poisoning:

  • 20-40mg/kg of theobromine entices only mild symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness. 
  • Over 40mg/kg, your dog will experience excessive urination, thirst, and may begin to exhibit cardiotoxic effects, such as tachycardia. 
  • At 60mg/kg or more, there is a chance for tremors, seizures, and even heart failure. 
  • 100-200mg/kg is determined to be the LD50, meaning that half of the dogs exposed to this dosage dies.[6]

What to Do if Your Dog Ate Hot Chocolate Powder

The first thing you should do if your dog has eaten hot chocolate powder, is to assess how much theobromine has been ingested. Next, you can get proper guidance from the Pet Poison hotline, or your vet.

If you’ve ever experienced a sick pet, you know how heartbreaking it feels. Hence, it’s important to act quickly, to make sure the situation doesn’t worsen.

Here are 5 steps to follow when your dog eats hot chocolate powder.

1. Determine How Much They Ate

The first step to helping your dog is to determine the amount of chocolate they ate.

The fastest way to do this is by using a chocolate toxicity calculator to get a rough idea of how much theobromine has been absorbed. This depends on the type and quantity of chocolate that was consumed.

In case of uncertainty as to the type of chocolate and how much theobromine it contains, it is safer to assume that more has been eaten rather than less and to act accordingly.

dog face close up

2. Call Your Vet or the Pet Poison Hotline

The second step is to call the pet poison hotline or your vet. They’ll be able to tell you what to do next, depending on how much chocolate powder your dog ate.

They’ll most likely tell you to do one of three things:

  • Monitor your dog’s symptoms
  • Induce vomiting
  • Take your dog for an emergency visit to the vet

3. Monitor Your Dogs Symptoms

If you are certain that your dog hasn’t eaten a toxic amount of powder, you should still monitor it for the next several hours to be safe. 

4. Give Your Dog Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that will induce vomiting. If the chocolate powder hasn’t been digested yet, you may get lucky, and your dog will throw it up.

For every 20 pounds, give your dog one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (3%). 

5. Emergency Visit to the Vet (Extreme Cases)

If you have reason to believe your dog has consumed a potentially lethal dose, it is advisable to take it to the vet so that it can be properly monitored and, if need be, urgently treated. 

Do not forget to bring the packaging of the powder, so that the vet can get an idea of the dosage. 

If your pet consumed the chocolate less than two hours ago, your veterinarian may induce vomiting and give him several doses of activated charcoal, which works to move the toxins out of the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream. 

For more severe cases, veterinary intervention may be needed to provide supplemental treatment, such as medications or IV fluids, to resolve the effects of the poisoning. Dogs suffering from seizures may need to be monitored at the clinic overnight.

What to Do if Your Dog Drinks Hot Chocolate

Follow the same steps as if they’ve eaten hot chocolate powder. 

In this case, there will be a lesser risk of harm since the powder containing the harmful compounds has been diluted in liquid.

Conclusion

Hot chocolate powder can severely harm your dog if enough is consumed, though it’s not as dangerous as pure cocoa. It is advised to keep all chocolate-based foods well out of reach from your dog.

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Luckily, the hot chocolate powder doesn’t contain very much chocolate. If you find your dog eating hot chocolate powder, make sure to call your vet.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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