Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats

Did you know that…

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats?

One of the most important ingredients of chocolate is cocoa, but it is precisely the most harmful ingredient for your dog or cat; cocoa contains theobromine and caffeine, two toxic substances for dogs and cats.

Humans are perfectly capable of breaking down theobromine, but this does not apply to our little four-legged friends. Theobromine is broken down much slower in the bodies of dogs and cats, causing this substance to accumulate and ultimately result in an overdose. Theobromine affects the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system.


The amount of theobromine that a dog or cat has ingested determines the kind of symptoms a dog or cat shows. The amount of theobromine is also important to determine how serious the situation is. A mild theobromine poisoning occurs when a dog or cat has received an amount of approximately 20 milligram per kilogram of body weight of theobromine. A dosage of 100 to 200 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is toxic (for dogs). Which chocolate a dog or cat has eaten is very important. Dark chocolate contains approximately 15 mg theobromine per gram. Milk chocolate contains approximately 2 mg per gram and white chocolate contains the least theobromine, only 0.1 mg per gram. You can imagine that a dog or cat is more likely to have a theobromine poisoning if it has eaten dark chocolate than if it has eaten milk or white chocolate… There are several symptoms of chocolate poisoning. The symptoms of mild theobromine poisoning are:

  • Vomitting
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Diarrhoea


When a dog has received more theobromine, the symptoms may be:

  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Uncontrolled muscle contractions
  • Fever
  • A stroke
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms often occur within two hours after the intake of chocolate. But because the breakdown of theobromine is very slow, symptoms can also occur after 24 hours.

What should you do if your dog or cat has eaten chocolate?

When a dog or cat has eaten chocolate you must always call the vet, this is an emergency! It is important to know if your pet has eaten dark, milk or white chocolate and the amount. A vet will usually advise you to visit the veterinarians practice as soon as possible. The treatment of a chocolate poisoning can include inducing vomiting (if the intake of chocolate is not more than 3 to 6 hours ago), flushing the stomach, administering activated carbon, administering oxygen or an intravenous drip. The treatment depends on the seriousness. It may take up to three days for a dog or cat to be fully cured of theobromine poisoning.

Dogs have a preference for products that are sweet, this is because the taste buds of dogs are more sensitive to a sweet taste than the taste buds of cats. You will see a dog eating chocolate rather than a cat. Unlike dogs, cats prefer products with a bitter taste.

You will see a dog eating chocolate rather than a cat, cats prefer bitter products.