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Dogs and Chocolate – Memphis Area Pet Health

Posted 01.14.14 by Kim Swift

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon,

which means inevitably, some dogs will make their way into a box of treats. Not only is this a problem because you no longer get to enjoy the sweets intended for you, but also because depending on how much and what kind of chocolate, you may be spending some time at your veterinarian’s office. Most of us know chocolate is toxic to dogs, but what is it about the brown delicious treat that makes animals sick?


Methylxanthines are a group of substances that include caffeine and theobromine, which are present in chocolate. Different types of chocolate have varying amounts, with milk chocolate having the least, and baking chocolate having some of the highest levels. Dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate fall in the middle. The toxic level of milk chocolate in dogs falls around 1 oz/lb, but minimum toxic doses have not been completely established for animals, so any chocolate ingestion should be always be followed by call or visit to your veterinarian.

Signs of toxicity include increased heart rate, increased breathing, muscle twitching, vomiting, diarrhea, and in worse cases, seizures, coma and death. Another cause for worry with chocolate toxicity is not related to methylxanthines. Because of the higher fat content of chocolate containing foods, dogs and cats can develop pancreatitis after ingestion, leading to abdominal pain, vomiting, and in some cases, death.

We can’t always prevent our pets from getting into things they shouldn’t, but the important thing is to act quickly when they do! It’s cheaper and safer to treat BEFORE signs appear rather than after, and prognosis is much better when we treat early. If your pet has consumed chocolate and you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 213-6680.


We hope you and your pets have a Valentine’s Day full of hugs and kisses (just not the Hershey’s kind)!


Visit any of our locations for the best in veterinary care, provided by highly skilled professionals who love what we do!


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