Dogs and Chocolate

An Indulgence to Humans, Toxic to Dogs

Chocolate

Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate goodness every now and then? If you’re like many people, you may have your own special stockpile of chocolate just waiting to be eaten.  While our chocolate indulgence is often satisfying, chocolate can be very harmful to pets, even fatal in some situations.  Keeping chocolates out of reach will help prevent toxicities from occurring.  

How Chocolate Causes Toxicity

Chocolate toxicity is no laughing matter when it comes to our pets. It’s a life threatening condition that can cause pancreatitis, seizures, heart arrhythmias, severe vomiting and death.

Chocolate contains the methylxanthine compounds theobromine and caffeine which can be lethal to dogs and cats. Our pets metabolize methylxanthines differently than we do, which is the leading culprit of toxicity. The fat and sugar in chocolate can cause pancreatitis, which is also life threatening.

The darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity. Dark chocolate has 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce as compared to 44-58 mg of theobromine per ounce in milk chocolate.

While death from ingesting chocolate is overall rare, smaller animals or those with a history of diabetes, pancreatitis, or heart problems are typically more sensitive to chocolate than large, healthy animals.

Chocolate chip

Signs of Chocolate Toxicity Emergency

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in pets includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination, cardiac arrhythmias, tremors, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, dogs are the most likely pet to eat chocolate. In fact, chocolate is the #1 canine toxin they’re consulted on!

Chocolate toxicity in pets can persist for 72 hours. Veterinary treatment is strongly recommended within the first two hours if you suspect your pet has consumed chocolate. Induced vomiting under your veterinarian’s care can help save your pet’s life.

Preventing Chocolate Toxicity

Whether you live in a dog or cat household, it’s important to keep chocolate safely out of reach for your pets.  Behind closed doors of a pantry or in a cabinet high out of reach are the most ideal places to ensure your pet’s keen sense of smell doesn’t help them find trouble.  When baking, make sure to keep chocolate chips and baking ingredients well out of reach, especially if your pet enjoys counter surfing.  Prevention can help to keep your pet out of harm’s way in the kitchen. 


Are peanuts safe for dogs? What about avocados? Read more about toxic substances to pets like onions, garlic, nuts and xylitol. You may also enjoy our story on the top pet toxins and other pet food toxins.

*A fee is billed by Pet Poison Helpline. PPH is not affiliated with Nationwide pet insurance.

About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline is a 24/7 animal poison control service available for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet.  Their experts can consult on all toxins and all species.  Pet Poison Helpline is the most cost-effective animal poison control service and is available in North America, Canada and the Caribbean by calling 855-289-0358. Pet Poison Helpline is free for all Nationwide pet insurance policy holders.