Dogs and Chocolate

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Many people assume that the rumor about chocolate and dogs is actually an old wives’ tale. Although you won’t have to rush your dog to the veterinarian if he eats an M&M or two, chocolate is actually very toxic to dogs and can make your dog very sick.

Chocolate contains a chemical stimulant called theobromine, which is found in the cocoa bean and causes problems in the nervous system, heart valves and urinary tract. Theobromine is in the same family as caffeine.

The amount of theobromine varies in different kinds of chocolate. Even a small amount of chocolate can do damage to your dog if it is the wrong kind. There is no known cure for chocolate poisoning, so it is very important to keep chocolate away from dogs.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning

Much like humans, as soon as a dog has had a taste of chocolate, his body will actually crave it and he will hunt for more. A dog’s body cannot handle chocolate because theobromine metabolizes much more slowly than in a human’s body. This means that chocolate can stay in your dog’s system for up to 20 hours before being eliminated through urine or feces.

During the time theobromine flows through your dog’s body, it may interfere with your dog’s nervous system, kidneys, heart muscles and more.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may start as early as within the hour, or may not show for up to 12 hours. Here’s what to look for when dealing with chocolate poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Excess water consumption
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Muscle spasms

As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, it is very important to contact your veterinarian immediately. Chocolate poisoning could lead to seizures, coma and even cardiac arrest.

What kind of chocolate is bad for my dog?

The amount of theobromine is different in different types of chocolate. Certain types may just cause a bit of vomiting, where as some could pose a serious health risk to your dog.

The following shows the types of chocolate from least harmful to most dangerous:

  • White chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • Semi-sweet chocolate
  • Baker’s chocolate.

Baker’s chocolate contains about 465mg of theobromine per ounce.

To learn more about dogs and chocolate, symptoms and what to do, visit

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