Alternate names

chocolate-covered espresso beans, milk chocolate, Baker's chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa mulch, cacao mulch, cocoa hull, caffeine, theobromine, methylxanthine, xanthine, cocoa powder, chocolate candy, Halloween candy, Easter candy, Valentine’s Day Candy, Christmas candy, Hanukkah candy

Toxicity to pets

The severity of chocolate toxicity varies greatly depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested and the size of the pet. The darker and less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it can be to dogs. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the greatest risk of toxicity, while white chocolate carries the lowest risk. A small amount of chocolate, such as a few chocolate chips, is unlikely to be a concern for most pets. Ingestion of the wrappers or packaging can also be a concern as they can sometimes cause an obstruction in the stomach or intestines. Also be aware that some chocolate-containing products may contain other toxins such as macadamia nuts, raisins, coffee or espresso beans, or xylitol.

Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine.  Ingestion in toxic amounts can result in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and possibly even death (though death is rare in pets who receive prompt and appropriate treatment). Dogs make up 95% of our chocolate calls, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat large amounts of chocolate.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)

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The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.