Chocolate Toxicity

With the holidays around the corner and we thought it was important to remind pet owners of the danger of chocolate consumption in dogs. Most dog owners are aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs but may not be aware that not all chocolate is created equally.

Everyone who has ever eaten chocolate knows there are many types: milk, dark, white, unsweetened, cocoa powder etc. It turns out each type has a different potential for toxicity.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs because it contains a substance called theobromine. The more chocolate liquor there is in a product, the more theobromine there is. The order of potential risk/toxicity to dogs is as follows:

  1. Unsweetened (baking) chocolate
  2. Dark chocolate (also known as semisweet chocolate)
  3. Milk chocolate
  4. White chocolate (has virtually no theobromine, the main concern is fat content)

Consumption of chocolate can cause a wide range of symptoms which can include one or more of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms
  • Death

It can take several days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog’s system. If the chocolate was only just eaten, it is possible to induce vomiting; otherwise, hospitalization and support are needed.

If your dog has consumed chocolate, it is recommended that you call into your local veterinarian to receive further instructions. When calling, if possible, have the following information ready:

  • The pet’s weight
  • The type of chocolate consumed
  • The amount of chocolate consumed

Written by: Sarah Bowyer, DMV