What Chemical Is Found in Chocolate That Is Poisonous to Dogs & Cats?

by Deborah Lundin
    The darker the chocolate, the greater the risk is for serious illness.

    The darker the chocolate, the greater the risk is for serious illness.

    Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

    While some people foods are safe and even healthy for your canine companion, chocolate is not one of them. This sweet treat is highly toxic and even fatal to dogs. Chocolate comes from roasted Theobroma cacao seeds that contain caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are what make chocolate a potentially deadly snack for your beloved canine.

    Toxic Ingredients and Symptoms

    Cocoa contains the methylxanthine alkaloids theobromine and caffeine. While these compounds contribute to the buzz humans receive when they ingest chocolate or other forms of caffeine, that buzz is short-lived. Caffeine is commonly used as a heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator and smooth muscle relaxant. Because dogs metabolize these compounds much slower, these effects are prolonged, resulting in toxicity and, in large amounts, even death. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, restlessness, excessive urination, rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures and cardiac arrest.

    Types of Chocolate

    The level of chocolate toxicity depends on a variety of conditions, including your dog’s age and weight. However, the main consideration is the type of chocolate your dog consumed. Because chocolate is made with different amounts of cocoa, some chocolate is worse than others are. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pooch.

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    About the Author

    Deborah Lundin has worked as a professional writer since 2005, though writing has always been a passion. She brings a background in health and fitness, veterinary care, professional cooking and parenting. She studied medical laboratory science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Sites published on include Yahoo, Physorg and MedicalXPress.

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