Have you ever heard of theobromine and its effects on dogs? Maybe you haven’t and that’s ok. Theobromine is a common ingredient found in chocolate. Generally, it’s safe for humans to ingest theobromine, but dogs should not consume foods that have theobromine in it. Ingestion of theobromine can cause adverse reactions in dogs. Read below to learn why theobromine is dangerous for dogs and what pet owners can do to keep their furry friends safe.

Why is Theobromine Dangerous for Dogs?

Theobromine can be found in a variety of foods, including chocolate. This common compound tastes bitter and stimulates a dog’s central nervous system. Humans can quickly metabolize theobromine, but dogs cannot. Dogs metabolize this compound much slower than humans. Symptoms range from mild ones such as an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea, to more serious conditions such as seizures and even death in extreme cases. Furthermore, theobromine can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system of dogs. 

Clinical Signs of Theobromine Poisoning

The symptoms of theobromine poisoning in dogs can range from mild to severe. It is important to be aware of the signs of theobromine poisoning and seek veterinary help if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Body tremors
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Increased heart rate


If a dog is suspected of experiencing theobromine poisoning, it is important to seek veterinary care. Treatment for theobromine poisoning in dogs typically involves administering IV fluids for easy excretion of theobromine. If ingestion has occurred recently your veterinarian may induce vomiting and give activated charcoal to absorb theobromine in the gastrointestinal tract. Heart medication may be needed to stabilize the heart rate and blood pressure.

Pet owners can take steps to keep their dogs safe from theobromine poisoning. The most important step is to keep all chocolate, as well as other foods containing theobromine, out of reach of dogs. Finally, pet owners should check with their veterinarian before giving any new food item to their dog, as some foods may contain theobromine and be dangerous for dogs. If you have further questions or concerns do not hesitate to call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 to ease your worries.