It never fails – when you are eating something, your dog wants some. While most of us are quite aware that chocolate and dogs are a dangerous combination, unattended candies might still get ingested by your dog from time to time. So, what happens if your dog ate M&Ms?
As M&Ms candies contain chocolate, you’ll want to bring your dog in to the vet for a checkup right away. Chocolate contains caffeine and also Theobromine, both of which are toxic for dogs and especially dangerous for smaller ones due to the small amounts required to be considered toxic. It’s best to get your vet involved now to be safe.
While we know chocolate is toxic for dogs, it’s best to go into a little more depth than that so that you’ll have a better understand of the dangers and what you’ll need to do next if your dog has ingested M&Ms. Read on to get the real scoop on these delicious, but potentially dangerous candies!
Table of Contents
Why are M&M’s toxic for my dog?
M&M’s have lots of sugar with those colorful candied shells but the real danger is the chocolate in it. Now, the good news is that vets tell us one or two M&M’s should be fairly safe if your dog manages to sneak them – though you should not give them to your dog on purpose.
One or two M&Ms might give your dog a stomachache, diarrhea, or possibly induce vomiting in small dogs, though there’s even a chance that nothing will happen, because the chocolate inside them is milk chocolate.
While Milk chocolate still contains cocoa content, and therefore caffein and Theobromine, it is a less pure chocolate than other types such as dark, semi-sweet, or baking chocolate. It’s still dangerous and potentially life-threatening if consumed in the right amounts, however, so it’s important to know how much your dog has eaten.
How much chocolate is toxic to my dog?
When your dog gets into M&Ms or other chocolate candies, it’s important to know what amounts are going to be considered toxic and also the different in toxicity between the various types of chocolate. We’ll start of with milk chocolate, as this is the chocolate found in ‘standard’ M&Ms, and give you a comparison:
- Milk Chocolate – Commonly found in M&Ms and many other American candies, Milk chocolate is toxic at .5 ounces per pound of body weight of your dog.
- Dark and Semi-Sweet Chocolate – Dark and semi-sweet varieties of chocolate are very toxic, with .3 ounces per pound of your dog’s body weight being considered to be dangerous amounts.
- Baking Chocolate – Baking chocolate is the most dangerous – just 2 small squares of it can make a 20 pound dog violently ill and create a life-threatening scenario. The toxic amount is just .2 ounces per pound of body weight.
- White Chocolate – White chocolate is simply marketed as chocolate, but unless cacao content is added to the mix, it doesn’t have real chocolate present except in the form of trace amounts of Theobromine and caffeine. You shouldn’t feed it to your dog, but mild gastrointestinal distress is usually the most to expect.
How much chocolate is in a package of M&M’s?
Now that you have an idea of how Milk Chocolate compares to the other chocolates, the next logical step is to determine the actual amount of chocolate in a bag of M&Ms. The closest approximate is going to be from the package weight, since we don’t have a lot of data available to filter out the candy shell portion.
A regular-sized bag of M&Ms is about 1.69 ounces and contains about 5 candies. The next size up is the ‘sharing size’, which is also known as the ‘Pi bag’ because it contains .14 ounces of M&Ms which averages out to around 104 M&Ms per bag.
That’s good news if you don’t buy the larger bags, but a sharing size bag is enough to poison a 6-pound dog to the point where veterinary assistance is required, so if you like M&Ms it’s best to never leave them unattended.
Even the most well-behaved dog can sometimes be tempted and if they are used to you sharing all of your meals, then they might decide to ‘help themselves’ if you step away and the results could potentially be tragic. You’ll want to get in the habit now of putting your candy out of reach if you need to step away.
Are there any M&M’s that my dog can have?
In August 2016, Mars Candies introduced a new kind of M&M to the market that uses a chocolate substitute which is known to be safe for dogs. They are called ‘Carob M&Ms’ and they utilize the pod-fruit of the Carob tree to produce a mock chocolate that is Theobromine and caffeine free.
While we don’t have enough data on them available to recommend these, you might want to check into them if your dog is a particularly sneaky and chocolate obsessed pooch. As an alternative, you can also research cooking with Carob and make some mock-chocolatey snacks of your own that should be safe to share.
Just remember to moderate the portions, of course, as these foods still contain a lot of sugar and calories that aren’t really good for you or for your dog. A good rule is that treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s daily calories to avoid obesity and other health related issues.
As far as those Carob M&Ms go, if you get ahold of some, we recommend that you go through the individual ingredients and Google them before sharing. While we know that Carob is safe for dogs, we don’t know what else might be in the candies, so it’s a good idea to do your homework first!
Some final words on M&M’s and your dog
The verdict on M&Ms is essentially that they are ‘off of the menu’, with the possible exception of the newer Carob variety. As these candies contain milk chocolate, they can make your dog dangerously ill and could even cause a coma and prove lethal if too many are ingested.
Stick with dog-safe treats instead and put them next to your candy on the table, so that your pooch can have a treat while you are having some of your own. Your dog might give you a suspicious look but they’ll be happy anyway, because they’re sharing a snack with their best friend in the world!