Is chocolate poisonous to dogs?


Many of us decide that January is the perfect time to go on a diet after indulging over Christmas and New Year, but if you do decide you fancy a chocolate treat try to resist the temptation to share it with your dog!  There is often lots of chocolate still around the house after the festive season so at Animal PoisonLine we frequently receive calls from worried owners whose pet has eaten some and they want to know if they need to rush to the vet or not.

What are signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs?

Chocolate is extremely toxic for pets, and can cause a range of problems including vomiting and diarrhoea, increased heart rate and neurological signs. These signs can start within 2-4 hours of ingestion.  Chocolate contains a toxin called theobromine, which although humans are able to break down and digest easily, animals are not so lucky.  Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine with dark chocolate having more than milk chocolate.  This means dark chocolate is toxic at lower amounts and can pose a real risk especially for smaller dogs or those who have ingested a large amount. 

Is chocolate cake poisonous to dogs?

This depends on the ingredients but if they include large amounts of cocoa powder, milk or dark chocolate this could be a problem depending on the amount ingested and the weight of the pet involved. 

Is white chocolate poisonous to dogs?

White chocolate contains very small amounts of theobromine and does not pose a risk to dogs and cats.  They would have to eat their own body weight in chocolate before we would be concerned!

Don’t forget other foods that contain chocolate too – chocolate cereals, chocolate biscuits, cookies, drinking chocolate, cocoa beans to name a few.  Even cocoa shell mulch used on your garden contains theobromine and can be tempting to dogs when it is put down!


If your pet does manage to get hold of any chocolate, please call the Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509 000 for advice on what to do next. If your pet starts showing any signs, then take them to your local vet practice immediately for treatment. The sooner they are treated, the better the outcome.