Chocolate Toxicity in Pets

 In Pet Talk: In the News

Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs and cats.  Chocolate is toxic to our pet friends because it contains a substance called theobromine. There are many factors that we have to take into consideration when finding out just how toxic the chocolate is that your animals ate. What type of chocolate was it? How big is your animal? When did your pet eat the chocolate? Do they have any other medical problems?

shaved dark choclateThe type of chocolate makes a substantial difference in the toxicity that may occur. White chocolate contains very little theobromine, while baking chocolate is highly concentrated. The milk chocolate that we mostly commonly have around contains 1/3 the amount of theobromine that semi-sweet chocolate contains and 1/10 the amount that baking chocolate contains.

One can easily see how a dog eating a bar of milk chocolate will cause significantly different clinical signs than if it ate the same amount of baking chocolate. 

Pets that ingest chocolate can start with clinical signs of vomiting and diarrhea. They can then proceed to be restless or hyperactive. In severe ingestions, they can develop tremors, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and even possibly death.

It is very important to contact your veterinarian or an emergency facility if your pet ingests chocolate. They will assist you in determining if your pet needs to be seen immediately and even possibly hospitalized.

Even though chocolate is a nice treat for us; it can cause severe sickness in our furry friends. Remember to keep that in mind as the holidays approach!

Kerri Wiedmeyer, DVM

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