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Why is Chocolate Toxic to My Dog?

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Chocolate. Most of us love it and have some in our house right now. But if you have a dog, please be cautious! Chocolate is toxic to dogs.

Why is chocolate toxic?

Chocolate contains methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine), which are toxic to dogs. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of methylxanthines. Watch this video from one of our board-certified criticalists Dr. Justine Lee to learn more:

Baking chocolate is the most toxic because it has 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce. Milk chocolate has a moderate toxicity level because it has 44-58 mg per ounce. White chocolate is the least toxic because it only has 0.25 mg per ounce.

How do I know if my dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate?

Chocolate toxicity depends on three things:

  1. The type of chocolate
  2. The amount of chocolate
  3. Your dog’s weight

The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more harmful it can be. White chocolate is not considered toxic due to the low amount of theobromine. The most dangerous types of chocolate are dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and baking chocolate because they have higher levels of theobromine.

View this Chocolate Meter to learn more about chocolate toxicity.

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What are the signs to look for?

These are the common signs of a chocolate overdose: Vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, excessive urination, hyperactivity, panting, restlessness, a racing heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, elevated blood pressure, increased body temperature, muscle spasms (tremors), seizures, cardiac failure, coma, collapse, and death.

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What should I do if my dog ate chocolate?

If your dog eats chocolate, contact your veterinarian or emergency hospital right away. Tell them what type of chocolate your dog ate, how much, and your dog’s weight. A veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis to determine if your dog ate a toxic amount of chocolate.

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We highly advise not keeping chocolate in your house if you have dogs. In the animal emergency field, we’ve learned that no matter what chocolate is hidden – they find it! If you do choose to keep chocolate (this includes chocolate-covered foods) in your home, keep it out of your pet’s reach! We recommend placing it on a top shelf of the refrigerator, kitchen cabinet, pantry, or closet. Never leave chocolate unattended on the counter, table, or in a bag/box on the floor – even if it’s wrapped!

If your pet does get into chocolate and needs immediate veterinary care, our Oakdale and Saint Paul locations are both open 24/7, every day of the year.

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