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Chocolate at Easter but not for your dog

Generally, we all know that chocolate is bad for dogs but, when Easter comes around and we are surrounded by it, it could be all too easy to give in to a pleading face and let your dog have some.

So why is chocolate bad for dogs? 

piled pieces of chocolate
Chocolate, nice for you, for your dog not so much.

Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. However, the hazard to your dog depends on the type, the amount consumed and your dog’s size. Especially in large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog.

Theobromine poisoning

  • The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Certainly, humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.
  • As you might expect, a large dog can consume more than a small dog before suffering ill effects.
  • Probably a small amount of will only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • However, in large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.

Usually, treatment for theobromine poisoning is to induce vomiting within two hours of ingestion. But, if you are worried or suspect that your dog may have eaten a large quantity of chocolate and they are showing any of the signs listed above, call your vet immediately.

If you have a small dog that has eaten a box of chocolates, you need to call and go to your vet right away. Do not wait.

Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. 

Cooking and dark chocolate, as well as cocoa, contain the highest levels, while milk and white chocolate have the lowest. If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in this means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce of the dark types may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog.

Thanks to for the info on Theobromine.

Never give chocolate as a reward or a treat.

If you want your dog to enjoy their Easter treats with you then you can buy them some treats that look the same but don’t contain cocoa so no Theobromine, but remember to always use treats wisely.  See our blog on treats.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained here it is for educational purposes only. The writer of this article and Dog Hair Day can’t diagnose any physical, mental or behavioural condition in animals nor prescribe treatment. We urge you to consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.