Tag Archives: chocolate toxicity

Chocolate toxicity: Keep your dog safe this Easter!

With the approach of Easter, your chocolate stash is likely to grow. Like us, dogs love chocolate and will go to great lengths to search it out. Unfortunately, for our four-legged friends, eating chocolate can cause serious illness.

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Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Whilst the amount of theobromine in chocolate is safe for human consumption, dogs take longer to process it, allowing the theobromine to negatively affect the dog’s heart, kidneys and brain.

How much is too much?

That depends upon your dog’s weight and the type of chocolate. Smaller, thinner dogs or dogs that are unwell are more at risk.

Generally, the darker, the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. White chocolate does not have enough theobromine to be toxic, but milk chocolate and dark chocolate can contain dangerous theobromine levels. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate have the highest amounts of theobromine so be sure to keep these well out of reach!

Some dogs are more sensitive to this toxin than others. As a rough guide, mild signs like vomiting and diarrhoea can occur with theobromine doses of 20mg/kg. Serious effects on the heart can start to occur at doses of 40 mg/kg and seizures at doses around 60mg/kg. Doses of 100mg/kg can be lethal.

Theobromine makes up around 1.9 mg/g of milk chocolate, 5.5 mg/g of sweet dark chocolate and 16 mg/g of cooking chocolate.

This chocolate calculator works out the toxic dose quickly and easily.


Who would have thought that the fatal dose for a 5 kg dog is just 30 grams of cooking chocolate or a tablespoon of cocoa powder!

Signs of chocolate toxicity

Mild poisoning can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Restlessness

Serious poisoning can cause:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased/abnormal heart rate
  • Increased activity or excitement
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How are dogs treated for chocolate toxicity?

This is an emergency! Bring your dog to the vet immediately as we need to induce vomiting within an hour to remove as much of the chocolate from the stomach as possible. Don’t be tempted to try to induce vomiting using home remedies as these can have serious adverse effects.

We may administer activated charcoal to reduce gut absorption of the toxin. Additionally, IV fluids help remove theobromine from the body and prevent dehydration.

With treatment, dogs with mild signs recover in 1-2 days. Dogs with seizures, muscle twitching or an abnormal heart rhythm will need more intensive treatment.

Other ingredients in the chocolate like the high fat and dairy content can trigger illnesses ranging from a bout of gastro to serious pancreatitis during the following week.

Chocolate is actually more toxic to cats than dogs however poisoning in cats is rare.

Be sure to store chocolate securely to keep all your pets safe.
If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, please call us immediately at Hall Veterinary Surgery on (02)62302223 for advice.

For Veterinary attention after hours please phone either:
Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service in Gungahlin on (02) 6225 7257 or,
Animal Emergency Centre in Fyshwick on (02) 6280 6344.

That’s toxic! The top 14 foods to keep your pets away from

There are a range of substances that can cause serious harm to pets. Listed below are just a few of the common products that you need to prevent your pet gaining access to.

Grapes, sultanas & raisins: The toxic substance in grapes, sultanas and raisins is unknown, however ingestion may cause kidney failure in sensitive pets and there is no ‘safe’ dose.Image result for grapes and sultanas

Caffeine: is a stimulant and pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, but if your pet swallows a handful of coffee beans, coffee grinds or tea bags they could be in danger.
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Chocolate: contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to pets. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains. Signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures this can lead to cardiac arrest.
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Mouldy foods: including bread, nuts and dairy products, contain lots of toxins that could make your pet very ill so keep all pets away from compost.
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Onions, garlic, and chives: eating these vegetables and herbs can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.
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Alcohol: is significantly more toxic to pets than to humans. When consumed, even small quantities of alcoholic beverages and food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors,
blood changes, coma and death.
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Macadamia nuts: within 12 hours of ingestion, macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and increased body temperature.
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Yeast dough: the rising dough causes gas to accumulate in the pet’s digestive system. Not only can this be painful, but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become blocked. So while small bits of bread can be given as a treat — never give your pet yeast dough.
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Bones: dogs regularly present to vets for emergency surgical procedures to remove intestinal obstructions after swallowing pieces of bone that become stuck. Other conditions bones frequently cause include constipation, pancreatitis, teeth fractures as well as internal injury such as bone splinters which can puncture your dog’s digestive tract.
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Corn on the cob: if your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even the whole cob, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to its size and shape. Signs to look out for are vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.
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Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener found in many products that causes insulin release which can lead to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels).
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Milk: feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upsets.
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Blue cheese: the roquefortine C found in blue cheese may cause
vomiting and diarrhoea, can lead to tremors, twitching, seizures and
high temperature.
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Death cap mushrooms: Are lethal to pets and humans –
no contact is safe.
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If your pet ever ingests something you are unsure about please give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 straight away.