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Can Chocolate Really Kill Your Dog?

The answer is yes. The key substance in chocolates which is cocoa contains two lethal substances that are toxic to dogs. 

The effect of these substances varies depending on amount ingested; type of chocolate and how quickly after eating the chocolate the dog is treated.

The cocoa bean contains caffeine and theobromine which are highly stimulating to the nervous system. Theobromine is slowly metabolized in the body thus it will take some time before it is eliminated making it very dangerous.

The toxic dose for theobromine in dogs is about 130- 150mg/kg body weight. This means that heavier dogs can consume more chocolate before toxic effects are seen.

 Type of chocolate

 Theobromine content

 Toxic level for a 20kg(44lb) dog

 Drinking chocolate


 17 oz

 Milk chocolate


 41 oz

Dark chocolate 


 17 oz

Unsweetened baking chocolate 


 6 oz

Cocoa powder 


 3.2 oz

 White chocolate



There are different types of chocolate such as drinking chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. Of these dark chocolate has the highest theobromine level thus it is more toxic when consumed. White chocolate has very low levels of theobromine almost insignificant therefore higher amounts can be consumed before the lethal dose is reached.

Unsweetened baking chocolate and dry cocoa powder have very high theobromine content. This makes them extremely toxic to dogs and they should be kept away to prevent any accidental consumption.

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Chocolates are considered highly poisonous in dogs since they are readily available to the home and they are sweet. Once your dog takes a bite off that chocolate bar, there’s no stopping him. If your dog ingest significant amounts of chocolate it is important to call your veterinarian immediately.

Do not be fooled if the signs do not occur immediately. Metabolism of theobromine occurs slowly and thus signs may be seen as late as 2hrs after ingestion. Early signs of poisoning will include restlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive water intake and increased dog urination.

Later as the poison circulates in the system it will affect the nervous system and the dog will show signs such as muscle twitching, convulsions, bluish tinge in the mucus membranes, arrhythmias, coma and eventually death.

If the dog has not yet vomited, vomiting is induced by the veterinarian. The dog is also given activated charcoal tablets which help reduce any further absorption of the toxic substances from the intestinal surface.

To prevent any instances of your dog ingesting chocolate

- Ensure chocolates are kept in areas the dog cannot reach

- Avoid feeding your dogs even little amounts of chocolates. Most people think that if you only give the dog small amounts of chocolates, it is ok. Wrong! Chocolate is addictive and once your dog is hooked they will look for the chocolate and eat it even when you are not around.

- Unsweetened chocolate for baking and cocoa powder should be kept in tightly sealed containers in high cupboards.

Treatment for chocolate poisoning is not specific. Symptoms are managed as they present.

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