When you think of a Kit Kat bar, you think of kicking back and resting.
For years the tagline of the TV adverts in the UK were “have a break, have a Kit Kat” and they were created in 1935 deliberately to fit into a lunch box.
And their “finger” design means that they are easy to break into pieces to enjoy throughout the day or to share with a friend or a dog?
I could imagine snapping a piece of and throwing it to my dog..
But I know as well as the next man that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate.
But is there enough chocolate in a Kit Kat bar to harm a dog?
Can Dogs have Kit Kats?
Your dog will not be harmed from having a bite or two of a milk chocolate or dark chocolate Kit Kat.
And the reason for this is that they are biscuit wafers covered in chocolate.
A four fingered Kit Kat weighs 1.5 ounces (42 g).
Most of the weight comes from the wafer and not the chocolate.
I will go into many more details later but what this means is that a medium sized dog would have to have eaten several dozen “fingers” of Kit Kat before they would be in danger of being poisoned.
This figure would be slightly less for smaller dogs and it would be less if the Kit Kat was covered in dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.
So having established that let’s take a look at the problem ingredients in Kit Kats- cocoa butter and chocolate.
What are the ingredients in Kit Kats?
For most of its life, Kit Kats have only come in one flavour- milk chocolate.
But currently there are three flavours available to buy in the US and they are dark chocolate varieties- one that is dipped in mint, the other dipped in strawberry.
Chocolate is the ingredient within a Kit Kat that is the main cause of concern for any dog owner and so I will focus on it straight away as I look at the danger posed by milk chocolate and dark chocolate to dogs.
Cocoa Butter and Chocolate
You may have heard that chocolate is poisonous to dogs if they eat enough of it.
This is because all chocolate contains cocoa which contains a chemical called theobromine.
If a dog eats too much of this chemical then they might die because at the extreme end it can cause heart failure.
Now, let’s reign ourselves back in a little bit.
The most dangerous chocolates are dark chocolates because they contain more cocoa and therefore more theobromine.
As far as milk chocolate KitKats are concerned the risk to your dog is much less but it still exists.
Also, cocoa butter has low levels of theobromine in it which is good news for us as far as this article goes.
How much milk chocolate is in a Kit Kat?
As a rough guide a medium size dog (50 lbs or 23 kg) will need to eat nine ounces of milk chocolate before showing any signs of poisoning.
Kit Kats are sold in two finger bars and four finger bars.
A four finger bar of KitKat weighs 1.5 ounces.
Even if your dog ate nine ounces or six bars or 24 fingers of KitKats from a chocolate poison angle they should be fine.
This is because KitKats contain more wafer or biscuit than chocolate.
And if your dog gets anywhere close to eating this amount of Kit Kat, it begs the question, why or how?
But I think it proves that your dog would have to eat a phenomenal amount of milk chocolate Kit Kats to place themselves in any danger.
But how much more serious is a dark chocolate Kit Kat to your dog?
Let’s find out shall we?
How much dark chocolate can my dog eat?
A milk chocolate Kit Kat contains cocoa butter and chocolate.
Dark chocolate varieties contain cocoa butter, chocolate and cocoa processed with alkali.
We know then that the dark chocolate flavoured Kit Kats will contain higher levels of theobromine but of course it is difficult to know exactly how much.
Dark chocolate, at its worst, might contain ten times the amount of theobromine than milk chocolate.
But, in the case of dark chocolate Kit Kats, we are probably looking at theobromine levels that are three times as strong as milk chocolate.
So, that rough guide of nine ounces (or six, four-fingered bars of milk chocolate) reduces to three ounces or just two four-fingered bars.
To help you some more, I’m going to link to a dog chocolate calculator.
This is a free online tool that you can use to work out if your dog is in any danger after eating too many Kit Kats- or any other type of chocolate.
All you need to do is to input your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate eaten and the amount of chocolate eaten.
It will then tell you what you need to do next.
But because this is such a serious issue, I’m going to highlight some of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning that a worried dog owner should be on the lookout for.
How do I know if my dog has been poisoned with chocolate?
Every piece of advice that I have offered up until this point has been a rough guide.
In this section, I want to talk about symptoms.
Behaviours that you should see in your dog that tell you that they have been poisoned.
So, let’s get real shall we?
If you are worried about your dog, you need to watch them very carefully for 12 hours.
This is the length of time that it can take for them to be poisoned.
Hopefully, if your dog has eaten way too many Kit Kats, it can be sorted by vomiting or diarrhea.
If there is only a little vomit or diarrhea with no other symptoms then it can be safely said that your dog has dodged a bullet.
However, other more sinister symptoms might include..
Excessive thirst and urination are two big symptoms to be on the lookout for as the body tries to flush the poison away and then rehydrate itself.
Other common symptoms include restlessness (partly caused by the caffeine that is also found in chocolate), a faster heartbeat and seizures.
And if you do see any of these symptoms in your dog, then you shouldn’t hesitate to phone up your vet as a matter of urgency.
Having looked at how the different chocolates used in Kit Kat bars might affect your dog, it is now time to quickly take a look at the other ingredients and find out how compatible these are with your dog.
Kit Kats contain six other main ingredients apart from chocolate.
How much of each of these ingredients is used is a mystery- all I know is that each ingredient makes up more than 2% of the total.
It should come as no surprise that sugar is the main ingredient in this chocolate bar.
It is a chocolate bar after all.
Sugar has the same impact on a dog as it does on humans.
Too much of it can lead to weight gain and it isn’t great for a dog’s teeth either.
And if this topic is of particular interest, I have written an article about the effects that eating too much sugar might have on a dog.
Most of the biscuit wafer that is covered in chocolate is made out of flour.
Not a healthy ingredient but it won’t harm your dog either as long as they are wheat intolerant.
If they are, it might cause your dog a spot of diarrhea because after sugar wheat flour is the biggest ingredient used.
Skim Milk/ Milk Fat/ Lactose
What is interesting here is that there are three milk or milk related products used in a Kit Kat.
For most dogs this won’t cause any real problems but if your dog is lactose intolerant, it is something to be aware of.
It all comes down to how many Kits Kats your dog eats, how sensitive their intolerance is and how much of these milk products are in the recipe.
Although, I’m not 100% sure, I would think that the amounts used aren’t much.
Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Oil)
Don’t worry about the use of vegetable oil as an ingredient in a Kit Kat.
It looks as if only a small amount of it is used to create this tasty chocolate.
But I have written in more detail about what happens if a dog eats (or drinks) vegetable oil.
And in the final section of this article, I want to look at how safe your dog would be if they ate all of a Kit Kat- wafer, chocolate and wrapper.
Help! My dog ate Kit Kat Wrapper.
Most Kit Kat products are wrapped in plastic.
If your dog is so desperate in their hunt for food that they eat the Kit Kat bar and wrapping then there are a number of thighs to watch out for.
Dogs cannot digest plastic and so the best that you can hope for is that after a few days the wrapping appears in bits in their stool.
You might see tiny flecks of blood here and the stool might be soft but essentially the wrapper has found its way out again.
The worst that can happen is that the plastic wrapper gets stuck somewhere within the dog as it makes its way through the dog’s digestive system.
Symptoms that your dog might have include having a cough that is fairly constant, gagging almost constantly or they might be straining and failing to poop.
You need to phone your vet as a matter of urgency.
Or your dog might display symptoms which are somewhere between the two extremes.
You might see them gagging only for them to cough some of the plastic wrapper back up.
Or they might be straining to poop and after a few minutes they might be successful with a little plastic wrapping thrown in for good measure.
Part of this depends on how aggressively your dog ate the packaging- did they manage to rip it into small pieces which would make it journey through the dog’s body easier
And how much packaging did they eat in the first place?
A four fingered bar or the wrapping from a multi pack?