Saturday, April 24, 2010

Know Your Dog's Enemies: Chocolate can kill your dog!

I really thought that his topic been covered enough. But it seems that I was wrong. So here it is again.

There are a number of foods that we enjoy that can seriously harm or even kill our dogs. 

Chocolate is right at the top of the list of offenders. You would think that preventing your dog from eating chocolate should be easy enough. I'd certainly think so. And yet every day there is proof to the contrary!

Why is chocolate so dangerous?

Chocolate in fact contains two substances toxic to dogs. Theobromine and caffeine. The concentrations of theobromine however is what makes chocolate potentially lethal for your dog.


Theobromine, a component of chocolate, is a substance found in the cacao plant. It's a strong CNS (Central Nervous System) and cardiovascular stimulant with effects similar to caffeine. The concentrations vary depending on the type of chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it will be for your dog.

Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine effectively, and it can remain in their bloodstream up to 20 hours after ingestion. Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • excessive urination
  • increased heart rate
  • hyperactivity
  • tremors
  • hallucinations
  • seizures
  • heart attack
  • internal bleeding
  • death
How much chocolate is lethal?

The severity of theobromine toxicity depends on the amount of chocolate ingested. There are some guidelines listing how much of which type of chocolate can be lethal in ratio to a dog's body weight.

But seriously, do you really want to play a guessing game when it concerns your dog's well being? Aren't there enough health risks over which we have substantially lesser control? Why add to it with something that is easily avoided?

Prevention is so simple!

Keep the chocolate out of your dog's reach! It might take a bit of diligence, but it is so simple. Don't leave chocolate lying around where your dog could get to it. We keep our chocolate in a top kitchen cupboard, take out what we're going to eat and eat it. That's all that is to it!

I know this is harder during holidays or parties. But a little extra effort can save your dog's life!


Chocolate Toxicity - What Makes Chocolate Toxic To Dogs?
The Pet Health Library: Chocolate Toxicity
Why chocolate poisons dogs and how to treat chocolate dog poisoning
Dog Health: Toxic Substances

Related articles:
Food For Thought: What's Good For Me Is Good For My Dog?


  1. I completely agree that you would think the chocolate thing is now a no brainer for dog owners, but I have talked to tons of people who still give it to their dogs. "Oh I give Fluffy a hershey kiss everyday." That's just irresponsible. If you have to give chocolate to your dog, do them a favor and go get some carob chips. All the chocolately goodness without the theobromine.

  2. Dear Ashley

    Thank you for reading!

    Yeah, these things still happen. The problem is that the toxicity is dose dependent. So that just reinforces the belief that it's OK.

    Fortunately our guys prefer a chunk of meat any day.

    Agree about the carob treats. My question is, will the dog know the difference if a box of chocolates accidentally left within reach.

  3. It never hurts to remind people about this one. I think people get complacent, or else think it's not the big problem it could be, just because their last dog once ate a small piece of chocolate with no ill effects.

  4. Yes, having a dog who once ate a small piece and was OK just encourages complacency. Thinking that you know better is often more dangerous than not knowing at all.