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Chocolate

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Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Death

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While the occasional chocolate chip may not be an issue, we worry about certain types of chocolate – the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your dog (or cat). Baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder pose the biggest risk. Other sources include milk chocolate, chewable vitamins, chocolate containing baked goods, and even cocoa bean garden mulch. Beware some foods which pack a double toxic punch such as chocolate covered raisins, macadamia nuts, or espresso beans, and foods made with marijuana or THC such as brownies or cookies. Poisoning is due to a class of chemicals called methylxanthines which include theobromine and caffeine.  Common signs of poisoning, especially in dogs, include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and even death. Dogs make up 95% of all our chocolate cases, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat chocolate. In some dogs, wrappers from chocolate candy can also cause problems by  obstructing the stomach or intestines.

Poison type: Foods

Alternate names: chocolate-covered espresso beans, milk chocolate, Baker's chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa mulch, cocoa hull, caffeine, theobromine, methylxanthine, xanthine, cacao mulch, cocoa powder, Halloween candy