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Chocolate and Valentine’s Day go hand-in-hand. That special box of chocolate from a valentine in your life can pose a serious danger to your pups. As you start to exchange presents with the people you love, remember to consider the safety of your dogs and avoid the dangers of chocolate for your dogs.

Toxic Ingredients for Dogs

Chocolate can be so dangerous for dogs because it contains theobromine and caffeine, neither of which canines can metabolize. Since a dog’s body cannot properly break down these ingredients, their harmful effects stay in their bodies long after they ingest the chocolate. Without proper care, this can lead to serious health issues, including death in some cases. The level of toxicity will depend on the kind of chocolate and how much was consumed.

How to Spot Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

There are many factors that contribute to a dog’s reaction after eating chocolate. If the dog is a larger breed and only consumed a small amount, they might not display strong symptoms. If the dog ate a large amount or tasted some baker’s chocolate or cocoa, which are considered the most toxic kinds of chocolate, they might have severe symptoms. The following are signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Extreme excitement
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Internal bleeding

Veterinary Intervention for Chocolate Toxicity

Whether your dog consumed a small or a large amount of chocolate, you should always call your vet as soon as you notice it. If the doctor can see your animal within an hour of consuming the chocolate, he or she can induce vomiting before the theobromine and caffeine have a chance to do any damage. If it’s been longer, there are alternative treatments the vet can try to help your dog recover from the chocolate poisoning. The faster you can get veterinary treatment for your dog, the better an outcome you can expect. 

Keeping Chocolate Away from Dogs

The best way to deal with chocolate and dogs is to keep it safely away from them. Store the chocolate away from your dog. If your pup can get onto countertops, you should put the chocolate securely in a cabinet. You might even want to consider putting it in the refrigerator to keep it extra secure. Be careful when discarding the packaging in the trash. If your dog is clever enough to get inside, he might lick enough off the wrapping to cause damage. Try to monitor everything coming into your home—especially if others live with you. Pay attention to extras like hot chocolate or ingredients for baking. If you have kids, check their lunchbox and backpack to make sure they didn’t bring home a chocolate valentine they forgot about. Dogs are great at sniffing out snacks in the kids’ rooms and backpacks.


The dangers of chocolate for your dogs are avoidable, and we hope your pets will be safe. We see accidental chocolate poisonings this time of year and hope it doesn’t happen to your dogs.

At Westarbor Animal Hospital, we want to help you and your pets live the happiest, healthiest lives together. From helpful resources for pet owners to top-notch veterinary services, we make it easy to get your pets the care they need through every stage of life. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call (734) 769-5391.

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