Seasonal Celebrations: A Cautionary Tale

Chocolate is an ever present thing in peoples homes. Some periods of the year it is more abundant and therefore more likely to catch the eye of the curious pet. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, as it contains the stimulant theobromine. Theobromine mainly affects the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms occur from 2-24 hours after ingestion and will vary depending on the amount of chocolate (theobromine) your dogs has eaten.

No-chocolate-for-pet(photo from

Should you worry? There is no antidote to theobromine. In most cases your vet will need to make your dog vomit, so if in doubt, call your local vet as soon as you can. Other treatments will depend on the signs your dog is showing. They may need intravenous fluids (a drip), medication to control heart rate, blood pressure and any seizure activity. The vet may also feed activated charcoal to the dog in order to absorb any theobromine left in the intestine.

Unpleasant stuff!

Theobromine doses in the region of 100-150mg/kg bodyweight are toxic to dogs. The following lists the approximate amount of theobromine in 25 grams of chocolate:

  • White chocolate – minimal
  • Milk chocolate – 44-64mg
  • Semi-sweet chocolate and sweet dark chocolate – 150-160mg
  • Baking chocolate – 390-450mg
  • Dry cocoa powder – 800mg

If your dog has eaten chocolate, you may see him or her start to vomit, pass diarrohea, see restless and hyperactive behaviour, rapid breahing, muscle tension and lack of co-ordination, a faster heart rate and possibly seizures. Contact your vet as soon as you notice your dog has eaten chocolate. It will help your vet to know how much your dog has eaten, what type it is and when the chocolate was eaten. From this information we would have a better idea of what treatment to start with first.

With prompt intervention, even dogs that have eaten large amounts of chocolate, the prognosis is usually good.


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