View Full Version : At halloween: don't forget chocolate can be lethal

30th October 2009, 10:42 PM
Just a reminder given the time of year: chocolate can kill a dog.

There is NO SAFE CHOCOLATE and that includes white, milk and dark -- all are not good for a dog and should never be given (they all also contain caffeine, also not healthy and potentially dangerous for dogs). There are many other treats that dogs love that are not a risk to their health. The sugar and fat in all types of chocolate are also NOT good for dogs. It is safer for dogs not to get into the habit of eating even tiny amounts of chocolate as that makes it more likely they will search it out as a known treat and could go for a whole trick or treat bag. :eek:

The most dangerous is dark chocolate and cocoa -- quite small amounts can be enough to make a cavalier very ill and even can be fatal. A single 8oz bittersweet chocolate bar is enough to have toxic effects on an average cavalier.

Milk chocolate is less worrying if eaten because there's less cocoa in it -- and white chocolate is the least dangerous -- but still is NOT good for a dog.

Please be careful -- I know people whose dogs have ended up on drips at the vets for several days recovering from getting into a stash of chocolate. Their hearts can accelerate to very dangerous levels. Given the heart problems in many cavaliers, consider how dangerous it is to overwork the heart!

This is a really good article: http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/nutritiondogs/a/chocolatetoxici.htm

And note it says the ASPCA has reports of far lower levels than indicated here being dangerous to some dogs -- all individuals will vary!

See: http://www2.aspca.org/site/DocServer/toxbrief_0201.pdf?docID=111

More info:

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

We've all heard it, "Don't give your dog chocolate it will kill him". We'll how true is it you're probably wondering. Do I have to rush him to an emergency vet if he ate one of my M&M's?

The truth is chocolate contains theobromine that is toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities. This is a xanthine compound in the same family of caffeine, and theophylline.

Toxic Levels

The good news is that it takes, on average, a fairly large amount of theobromine 100-150 mg/kg to cause a toxic reaction. Although there are variables to consider like the individual sensitivity, animal size and chocolate concentration.

On average,
Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine per oz.
Semisweet chocolate contains 150mg/oz.
Baker's chocolate 390mg/oz.

Using a dose of 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose it comes out roughly as:
1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for Milk chocolate
1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for Semisweet chocolate
1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.

So, for example, 2 oz. of Baker's chocolate can cause great risk to an 15 lb. dog. Yet, 2 oz. of Milk chocolate usually will only cause digestive problems.

Clinical Signs

Xanthines affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system and peripheral nerves. It has a diuretic effect as well. Clinical signs:

Hyper excitability
Hyper irritability
Increased heart rate
Increased urination
Muscle tremors


There is no specific antidote for this poisoning. And the half life of the toxin is 17.5 hours in dogs. Induce vomiting in the first 1-2 hours if the quantity is unknown. Administering activated charcoal may inhibit absorption of the toxin. An anticonvulsant might be indicated if neurological signs are present and needs to be controlled. Oxygen therapy, intravenous medications, and fluids might be needed to protect the heart.

Milk chocolate will often cause diarrhea 12-24 hours after ingestion. This should be treated symptomatically (fluids, etc..) to prevent dehydration.

If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate contact your Vet immediately! They can help you determine the the proper treatment for your pet.

From http://www.talktothevet.com/ARTICLES/DOGS/chocolatetoxic.HTM