WA Veterinary Emergency & Specialty

Chocolate Toxicity

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Everyone loves chocolate, including dogs and sometimes, cats. Unfortunately, chocolate can be poisonous to dogs & cats. Chocolate contains theobromine which is slowly metabolised by animals. Theobromine causes vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures (fits), an abnormal heart rhythm and death in severe cases.

The amount of theobromine in chocolate varies with the amount of cocoa present with dark chocolate containing the highest levels of theobromine. In addition to the theobromine, another problems is the amount of fat found in chocolate. Eaten in large enough amounts, the fat present in chocolate could result in pancreatitis.

If you suspect your dog has consumed chocolate or is showing signs of chocolate toxicity, call your regular veterinarian or WAVES emergency service on 9412 5700 immediately. If you can let us know the weight of your pet, the type of chocolate and the maximum amount which may have been eaten, our staff will assess the type and amount of chocolate that your dog has eaten and advise you whether treatment is required for your dog or cat.

Early treatment in most cases is highly successful and may be as simple as making your dog vomit and medicating with activated charcoal to bind the rest of the theobromine in the stomach & intestines. Depending on the severity, your dog may also require hospitalisation for intravenous fluids and medications to control the heart rate or seizures.

Coffee and coffee beans causes similar clinical signs at lower doses.