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

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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.


About the Author

Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.

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