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Hillside Veterinary Centre
116 Wareham Road
Corfe Mullen
Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 3LH
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Happy Valentine's Day

8th February 2018
Happy Valentine's Day

Give the one you love chocolate - but not your pet!

With Valentine's Day less than a week away we wanted to remind you that chocolate is poisonous to dogs (and other animals).

Dogs and chocolate don't mix!

Valentine's Day usually involves giving the one you love some chocolate as a token of your affection... but giving your dog (or other pets) chocolate does not mean you love them as it can be extremely dangerous!

Keep chocolate out of paws way

The problem is that eating even a small amount of chocolate leads a dog to crave more and they will jump at any opportunity to thieve any type of chocolate given the chance.  So when your dog gives you those eyes, don't give in to even giving a tiny piece of your chocolate... why not take them out for a walk or have a play session instead.

Dark chocolate in particular, that has a higher concentration of the toxic chemical theobromine, can bring about severe heart and nervous system changes in some dogs leading to coma and death and at a milder level can cause a nasty gastrointestinal upset with vomiting and diarrhoea.

Why is chocolate poisonous?

Chocolate contains theobromine - a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean.  Theobromine increases urination and affects the central nervous system as well as heart muscle.

While amounts vary by type of chocolate, it's the theobromine that is poisonous to dogs.

Knowing how much is too much for each dog is a difficult question, but ultimately it's down to the level of cocoa in the chocolate.  As a golden rule, generally the darker the chocolate the higher the cocoa content and the more toxic it is to dogs.

Symptoms of chocolate dog ingestion and toxicity

You can recognise that your dog has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate from the following symptoms, generally within the first few hours:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • As time passes and there's increased absorption of the toxic substance, you'll see an increase in the dog's heart rate, which can cause arrhythmia, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and/or excessive panting.

This can lead to hyperthermia, muscle tremors, seizures, coma and in some cases sadly death.

How much chocolate is toxic?

If a 25kg dog ie, a Labrador eats a teaspoonful of milk chocolate, it's not going to cause serious problems. However, if that same dog gorges himself on a two-layer chocolate cake, his stomach will feel more than upset and it's likely he'll soon be vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea.

To answer the question ‘How much is too much’ is not that simple to answer.

The health and age of your dog must be considered. If your dog is older and not in tip top shape, his reaction to a plate of chocolate is going to be different from a young healthy dog of the same weight.

The quantity has a relationship with the weight of your dog - small dogs can be poisoned from smaller amounts of theobromine than larger dogs.

See below for our general guide to the quantities of particular chocolate types that can be toxic to dogs:

Milk chocolate

Approximately 500g of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 10kg dog.

The average chocolate bar contains 56g-85g of milk chocolate.  It would take two to three bars to poison a 5kg dog.

Note:  semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level.

Dark chocolate

Approximately 150g of dark chocolate is toxic to a 10kg dog.  90g for a 5kg dog.

Baking chocolate

Two squares of 28g baking chocolate is toxic to a 10kg dog.  One square of 28g for a 5kg dog.

If you do suspect that your dog may have eaten even a small amount, you should contact us (or your vet) immediately for advice.


Taking the above into consideration, we wish you and your gorgeous pets a happy and safe Valentine's Day.


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