The Truth About Chocolate and Pets

At Green Dog Dental, we all agree: chocolate is THE BEST. Whether you like white chocolate, milk chocolate, or ultra-dark chocolate (no judgement), there’s a flavor and intensity for everyone, and it’s one of nature’s tastiest gifts to mankind.

No Chocolate for Four Legged Friends

Unfortunately, it’s a pleasure that our furry friends are excluded from. Chocolate is very toxic to dogs and can be harmful to cats, too. While it’s unlikely that you’re willingly sharing your chocolate with your pets, they have a tendency to get into it anyway, especially if you’re not careful.

Most people know that chocolate is toxic for pets, but it’s not quite that simple. It’s good practice to implement the “no amount of chocolate is safe for pets” rule and keep all chocolate out of reach of your dog or cat. But if your pet does end up eating some, it’s a good idea to know a bit about the science behind chocolate toxicity.

Beware Theobromine!

The element in chocolate that is toxic to pets is a caffeine-like chemical called theobromine. Theobromine is especially toxic to dogs because they cannot metabolize it as effectively or as quickly as human beings do.

Mild chocolate toxicity  can cause vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and restlessness. Mid-level toxicity can cause all of the above PLUS hyperactivity, imbalance and tremors. At very high doses, theobromine poisoning can cause seizures, coma and even death in both cats and dogs. These signs usually become apparent six to 12 hours after a pet has ingested chocolate.

What to Know if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

When it comes to theobromine poisoning, not all chocolate is created equal.

For example, milk chocolate contains 44mg of theobromine per ounce, whereas semisweet chocolate contains 150mg and baking chocolate (the bitter kind you use in baking) contains 390mg per ounce.

So, while eating one Hershey’s kiss, which is milk chocolate, isn’t good for your dog, eating a similar amount of baking chocolate will be much more harmful.  

When chocolate is mixed with other things, like in cakes or cupcakes, the theobromine levels are so low that it usually wont cause serious toxicity. So, it’s more dangerous for your pet to ingest pure chocolate, as opposed to chocolate cupcakes.

If your dog or cat has gotten ahold of chocolate, in any form, a trip to your vet is warranted. It’s important to tell your vet what kind of chocolate they’ve eaten, and, if possible, how much.

A Trip to the Vet is Good Bet

It is important to remember that your pet still needs medical attention, even if they’ve vomited up all the chocolate. Theobromine has a cumulative effect and takes a long time to clear their system, so you’ll want your vet’s advice and expertise to make sure your pet is ok.

Check out our tips on bringing home the newest four legged member of the family!