Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

We like chocolate candy, ice cream, chocolate drinks, chocolate cakes, just about anything with chocolate. We may want to share our favourite treat with our eager pet, but it is best to think twice and reach for a dog treat instead.

Chocolate is directly toxic because it contains methylxanthines. In particular, the methylxanthines chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. Both caffeine and theobromine produce similar effects, with the theobromine effects lasting much longer than the caffeine’s. The more chocolate there is in a product, the more theobromine there is. This makes baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate. In turn milk chocolate, and chocolate flavoured cakes or cookies are the least harmful, but still can cause problems for dogs. Theobromine causes:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms
  • Death in severe cases

Your Dog Ate Chocolate. Now What?

Typically, your dog will vomit on his own. If not, your vet might want you to give him hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up. Once your dog vomits, don’t give him any food or water.

If you think your dog ate chocolate, don’t wait for warning signs. These can take 6 to 12 hours to show up. Symptoms include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Too much energy
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Shaking
  • Seizures

The stimulants in chocolate stay in the body a long time. In severe cases, symptoms can last up to 72 hours. Early treatment will help your dog recover quicker.