Chocolate for your pets?

18 Apr



With Easter right around the corner, I am sure a lot of you will be receiving beautiful Easter Baskets filled with your favorite chocolate confections.  Although they are tasty goodness for you they are not so good for your pet.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains Theobromine, or what was formerly known as xantheose.  It is the bitter part of the cacao plant.  There are usually higher amounts of Theobromine in dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate or lighter chocolates.  Theobromine is a potent cardiovascular and central nervous system stimulant.


Theobromine can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, excessive panting, nervousness, excitement, tremors, and in more severe cases can cause heart arrhythmias and possible death.  Symptoms may occur within four to fifteen hours after ingestion.  According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “baker’s chocolate of approximately 1.3 g/kg (0.02 oz/lb) of a dog’s body weight is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity. For example, 2.25-ounce (64 g) of baker’s chocolate would be enough to produce symptoms in a 20-pound (9.1 kg) dog; however, other types of chocolate (such as milk chocolate candies) contain significantly less theobromine and so require the dog to ingest more before showing symptoms.”  Theobromine lasts longer in dogs at approximately 17.5 hours as opposed to humans for example at around 6 hours.

Cats can be affected by chocolate poisoning, but it does not happen nearly as frequently as it does with dogs.  Cats are unable to taste sweetness and therefore are not drawn to sweet foods.  Should your cat be unusual and partake in the sweet indulgence of chocolate, according to the Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 5th Ed. by Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush and Novontny, “Approximately 40-50g of cocoa would need to be consumed to provide toxicity of Theobromine in cats, which is very rare.”

Another side effect is the sugary fillings that are in some chocolate candies, which could trigger pancreatitis in dogs.


The largest threat of theobromine toxicity is with dark chocolate, however, to be safe, I would make certain all chocolates are put out of your pet’s reach.

Call your vet immediately or call the ASPCA poison control center at (888) 426-4435.

While waiting you might try the homeopathic remedy Ferrum Metallicum 30C.  This remedy is good for vomiting immediately after eating or for vomiting hours after ingestion.  The recommended dose is up to three times daily.  Another good homeopathic remedy would be Ipecac 6C.

If you have essential oils on hand, I would use some therapeutic grade Peppermint oil and rub it on your dog’s stomach, as well as letting them inhale some oil directly.  This may help with vomiting and nausea.

Hydrogen Peroxide is another good source to help induce vomiting.  Use the stuff you find in your local pharmacy, which is usually a staple in everyone’s medicine cabinet at home.  The dose is 1 tsp for every 10 pounds of bodyweight.  Hydrogen peroxide is an irritant in the pet’s digestive tract, which will make them vomit.  Once you dose your dog, walk him around to get things moving.  If they have not vomited within 15 minutes you can re-dose.  If you have to dose your cat, try to get them moving around to encourage the hydrogen peroxide to move through their system.

These tips are meant to be used while waiting for advice from your vet or poison control and not as a cure for Theobromine toxicity.

 Written by:  Brenda M. Tobin-Flood, Cert. C.N.

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With a background in Animal Science, Animal Nutrition, Homeopathy and Natural Health, I can help you to create a holistic wellness plan for your animal companions.  Does your pet have an acute or chronic disease? I use natural curative treatments such as homeopathy, herbs and essential oils.  Have any questions, or to schedule an appointment,  email





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