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Recognizing the Signs of Chocolate Toxicity in Your Dog

Dogs love chocolate just as much as humans do, but unfortunately, this tempting, sweet treat is extremely toxic for them. Although dog owners sometimes convince themselves that a little bit of chocolate won’t hurt, there is no safe amount of chocolate to feed your dog, no matter how much your pet may try to convince you to give them a bite. If you think your dog may have consumed chocolate, recognizing the signs of chocolate toxicity, and getting emergency veterinary care as soon as possible is critical. Here is what you need to know. 

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

The ingredient in chocolate that is toxic for dogs is theobromine. Humans can easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs are unable to break it down. Theobromine is similar to caffeine, and it only takes a small amount to be dangerous for dogs. Typically, about 100 to 150 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram of body weight can be fatal—note that a kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds. The level of theobromine is highest in dark chocolate and lowest in white chocolate. 

The sugar and fat in chocolate can also be dangerous for dogs. As with other kinds of fatty foods, chocolate can cause pancreatitis, which is a medical emergency for dogs. 

What are the signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs?

Theobromine affects the nervous system, heart, and kidneys. Symptoms may be seen as soon as four hours after ingestion and up to 24 hours later. The most common signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and incoordination. 

Not all dogs will experience all symptoms of toxicity. The more chocolate a dog has consumed, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be.

Don’t take a chance if you think your dog has consumed chocolate. The Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day to provide expert advice, and Emergency Veterinary Hospital is also here around the clock to provide urgent care. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, visit our veterinary hospital in Springfield, or call us at (541) 746-0112 to learn more about our services.