Questions about dogs eating various chocolate-containing foods are super common in your average small animal vet clinic.

Most people know that eating chocolate can be toxic to dogs but they don’t realize that it takes a pretty big dose to cause major health problems. 


  • Dogs can get sick from drinking hot cocoa/hot chocolate if they consume enough.
  • Small dogs are much more likely to have toxicity symptoms after drinking hot cocoa.
  • Call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center for advice if your dog consumes any sort of chocolate.

Should I Be Concerned After My Dog Drank Hot Chocolate?

Call Pet Poison Helpline 24/7 for help if your dog ate or drank chocolate (855) 764-7661

Instant hot chocolate mixes do contain chocolate, so you should definitely be concerned if your dog ingests the powder or the prepared beverage. Like all other chocolate, the dose makes the poison. 

The problem is figuring out how much chocolate a dog ingested when the food contains other ingredients. Let’s look at hot chocolate beverages and I’ll give you an educated guess on how much chocolate they contain. 

Half a serving of Swiss Miss hot chocolate is enough to cause symptoms in 1-10 pound dogs. A 20-pound dog may show symptoms after consuming a full serving.

Larger dogs can eat more before getting sick. The stronger the chocolate, the less it takes to cause toxicity symptoms in dogs.

But even if your dog drank/ate less than that, you should always err on the side of caution and take your dog to a vet right away. Immediate action can prevent major illness and possibly save his life!

Please keep reading below for details about the toxicity levels of different types of chocolate beverages when consumed by dogs.


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Dash the Whippet had a scary experience with chocolate!

Toxic Components in Hot Chocolate Beverages

The components of chocolate that are toxic to dogs are methylxanthines, theobromine and caffeine. These naturally occurring compounds cause central nervous system stimulation. 

Caffeine reaches maximum blood levels 30-60 minutes after being eaten by a dog. Theobromine takes about 2 hours to reach maximum blood levels and has longer-lasting effects than caffeine. 

Dogs can’t metabolize caffeine and theobromine as well as humans. Dogs who eat a lot of chocolate may experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures and heart problems if they eat enough cocoa liquor. 

Although the main concern in this situation is chocolate poisoning, some of these drinks might also be high in fat if they’re made with cream. Some dogs can get an upset stomach from a high fat meal while others can develop pancreatitis.

mug of hot chocolate (dog drank hot chocolate)

Methylxanthine Content of Different Types of Chocolate

Cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate bars have the most methylxanthines while milk chocolate has much less. You can consult your vet or this chocolate toxicity calculator to see if your dog ate enough chocolate to get sick from it.  

A rule of thumb: a lethal dose is possible from one ounce of milk chocolate per one pound of a dog’s body weight. In other words, a 10-pound dog would need to eat 10 ounces of milk chocolate (or about 6.5 standard-size Hershey® bars) to get into deadly territory. But they can still get very sick from eating only one Hershey bar.

The toxic dose of methylxanthines in dogs starts at 20 mg/kg (9.1 mg/pound of body weight).

The table below lists the amount of methylxanthines PER GRAM of different chocolate products.

Type of ChocolateTheobromine mg/gCaffeine mg/gTotal Methylxanthines mg/g
White Chocolatenegligiblenegligiblenegligible
Milk Chocolate0.5-2 0.1-0.9 0.6-2.9
Dark Chocolate (55% cocoa)5-8.50.5-2.66-10
Bitter Chocolate (>70% cocoa, includes baking chocolate)5.5-12.70.7-36-16
Cocoa Powder19-252.121-27
Hot Cocoa Mix, 6 oz. prepared serving62-140 mg/serving2-4 mg/serving64-145 mg/serving
Homemade Hot Cocoa (using 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)19-252.1105-135 mg/serving
Cold Chocolate Milk Beverages58 mg/serving5 mg/serving63-145 mg/serving
Drinking Chocolate, 8 oz. homemade serving155-70020-168175-868 mg/serving

(References: 2, 3)

How Much Hot Chocolate Will Hurt a Dog?

You should take ANY and ALL chocolate ingestions by your dog seriously. But just how much hot chocolate would be expected to make a dog symptomatic?

I contacted ConAgra, the maker of the popular Swiss Miss® Cocoa mix. They report that Swiss Miss Cocoa contains 9-12% cocoa powder. The standard Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Cocoa product comes in 1.38 oz./39.1 g packets. So we can expect each packet to contain 3.5-4.7 grams of cocoa powder. Each Swiss Miss packet should contain approximately 66-127 grams of total methylxanthines.

The toxic dose of methylxanthines in dogs starts at 20 mg/kg (9.1 mg/pound of body weight).

At that level, we start to see mild signs of chocolate toxicity including vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. Here’s a table illustrating how the beverage mix would affect a 22-pound dog.

Chocolate Toxicity & Hot Cocoa Mix Equivalents

Total Methylxanthines Ingested Per Kilogram of Body WeightExpected Toxic SymptomsEquivalent Dose Instant Hot Cocoa Mix for 22 Pound Dog (1.38 oz. dry or 6 oz. as mixed)
20 mg/kgvomiting, diarrhea, restlessness1.3 servings
40 mg/kgAgitation, increased urination, heart toxicity2.6 servings
60 mg/kgseizures4 servings
80-100+ mg/kgdeath5.2+ servings

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Most classic hot chocolate drink recipes call for 6-8 ounces of milk,1-2 tablespoons of sugar and about 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder per serving. A cup of homemade cocoa made this way contains approximately 140 mg of methylxanthines–the same amount in a packet of Swiss Miss mix. 

This amount could be toxic to dogs 20 pounds or less, assuming they drank an entire serving. If extra chocolate is added to the recipe, you have to take that into account when calculating the toxicity level. 

Dogs over 20 pounds might have mild vomiting and diarrhea from ingesting unfamiliar food, but we would not expect them to show signs like seizures or hyperactivity from the chocolate.

Homemade Drinking Chocolate 

Drinking chocolate is a very rich beverage made with milk or cream, sugar and dark chocolate instead of cocoa. An average recipe calls for 1-2 ounces of 70% cacao chocolate per serving. This amount of bitter chocolate will contain about 175 to 868 mg of methylxanthines. That’s a lot more than Swiss Miss!

I would expect homemade drinking chocolate-style beverages to be more toxic than hot cocoa mix when ingested by a dog. If darker chocolate is used, the poisoning symptoms will increase. When sweeter chocolate is used, the toxicity level decreases. 


The chocolate contained in hot cocoa drink mixes can cause poisoning symptoms in dogs. Smaller dogs have a higher risk of getting sick. If a 20-pound dog drinks or eats an entire serving of standard instant hot chocolate, you can expect vomiting and diarrhea. If they eat more than one serving, the symptoms will be more severe and could be deadly. 

It’s always best to err on the side of caution when dogs ingest any type of chocolate. So if your pup took more than a lick or two of your beverage, call or proceed to the nearest emergency clinic for veterinary advice. provides content for informational and entertainment purposes. You should always seek care from a veterinarian to diagnose and treat your unique pet. Visit the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use section of this site to learn more.

Related Posts

  1. Li, Y., Feng, Y., Zhu, S., Luo, C., Ma, J., & Zhong, F. (2012). The effect of alkalization on the bioactive and flavor related components in commercial cocoa powder. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 25(1), 17-23. 
  2. Shively, C. A., & Tarka Jr, S. M. (1984). Methylxanthine composition and consumption patterns of cocoa and chocolate products. Progress in clinical and biological research, 158, 149-178.
  3. Weingart, C., Hartmann, A., & Kohn, B. (2021). Chocolate ingestion in dogs: 156 events (2015–2019). Journal of Small Animal Practice, 62(11), 979-983.
  4. Gwaltney-Brant, S. (2001, February 1). Chocolate Intoxication. ASPCAPro. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from 
  5. Gwaltney-Brant, S. M. (2022, January 24). Chocolate toxicosis in animals – toxicology. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from