Warning for Dog Lovers: Chocolate Can Kill Your Pet

Humans love chocolate, but delicious as it is, it is toxic to your dog, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns pet owners.

We all love our pets, and we love to indulge them. Often—too often, in fact—we give them a bite here, a bite there, of things we enjoy. Sometimes letting our pets eat “people” food is okay; other times it can be deadly. One example is with dogs and a people favorite, chocolate.

Chocolate is so delicious, it is hard to imagine it causing deadly harm to anyone or anything. But, when it comes to our dogs, indeed, chocolate can kill. Bernadette Dunham, DVM, PhD, and Carmen Stamper, DVM, in a recent article for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, indicate that chocolate is toxic in dogs’ systems and should simply never be given to dogs, no matter how much we humans may love it.

Why Chocolate is Not a Doggy Treat

“Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound in the same family as caffeine,” Dunham and Stamper explain. “In certain quantities, theobromine is toxic to dogs. In general, the minimum toxic theobromine dose in dogs ranges from 46 to 68 milligrams/pound (mg/lb). Half the dogs that consume 114 to 228 mg/lb or greater of theobromine will die. Lots of things can play a role in whether your dog will have a toxic reaction including the amount of chocolate your dog ate, your dog’s size, and whether your dog happens to be extra-sensitive to theobromine.”

If your dog does mistakenly eat chocolate, the type of chocolate consumed can be a factor, as well. Different types of chocolates contain different amounts of theobromine. Examples include:

  • Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per oz. (704 mg theobromine/lb milk chocolate)
  • Semisweet chocolate chips contain 150mg/oz. (2400 mg theobromine/lb semisweet chocolate)
  • Baking chocolate contains 390mg/oz. (6240 mg theobromine/lb baking chocolate)

Signs of Theobromine Toxicity

If your dog has eaten chocolate and is experiencing theobromine toxicity, he could be showing a range of symptoms, Dunham and Stamper indicate, including vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, hyperactivity, urinating more, muscle spasms and seizures. These symptoms can be mild or severe. But, if you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, do not wait to see if the symptoms begin; call your veterinarian immediately, Dunham and Stamper warn.

For more information about pet health, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration online.

Image: Wikimedia Commons