Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

While some recent studies have shown that chocolate may be beneficial to human health, it is important to know that chocolate can be toxic and sometimes even fatal for animals.
Dogs are most commonly affected due to their ability to seemingly find it.

What makes chocolate toxic?

Chocolate is made from cocoa, and cocoa beans contain caffeine and a related chemical compound called theobromine, which is the real danger.
The problem is that dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans. The after effects that we may experience from chocolate may last 20-40 minutes but in dogs it can last many hours. After 17 hours, half of the theobromine a dog has ingested is still in the system.
Theobromine is also toxic in cats but there are few reported cases of theobromine poisoning in felines because they rarely eat chocolate. Dogs on the other hand will eat just about anything. Even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Truly toxic amounts can induce hyperactivity, tremors, high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, seizures, respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

Are some chocolates more toxic than others?

Yes, unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate contains 8-10 times the amount of theobromine as milk chocolate.

Quick guide for theobromine levels in different types of chocolate:

*Dry cocoa powder = 800mg/oz
*unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate = 450mg/oz
*cocoa bean mulch = 255mg/oz
*semisweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate = 150-160mg/oz
*milk chocolate = 44-64mg/oz
*white chocolate = insignificant amount

Signs of chocolate toxicity

Vomiting and diarrhea
Increased Heart Rate
Seizures

Serious toxic reactions can occur with ingestion of about 100-150mg of theobromine per kilogram of body weight.

If your dog has ingested chocolate and is showing any signs of toxicity, or you are unsure as to whether the amount ingested will be toxic, please contact us at Golf Glen Veterinary Clinic (905) 727-3003 or if after hours contact the Veterinary Emergency Clinic of York Region at (905) 953-5351.

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