Toxic Food for Dogs: Chocolate

Many common human foods should not be fed to dogs. Knowing what human foods are harmful to your Spaniel, means avoiding any possible poisoning.

In this article, we'll discuss the toxic effects of chocolate, the signs your Spaniel may be affected and want you can do to prevent chocolate poisoning.

Holidays seasons like Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween and Easter is when animal poisoning occur; 90% occur accidentally in the owners home and are serious. 

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

  • Chocolate comes from roasted cacao seeds.
  • The substances in chocolate that are toxic are:
    • methylxanthine theobromine (also found in cola and tea)
    • caffeine (also found in coffee
  • The high-fat content can also trigger pancreatitis in susceptible breeds like Cocker Spaniels.

What are the effects of chocolate toxicity?

Chocolate causes potentially life-threatening heart issues and central nervous system problems.

 How does chocolate poisoning occur?

  • Simply from your dog eating the chocolate. 
  • Dark chocolate, cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic type of chocolate because they have the highest concentration of methylxanthine theobromine.
  • Foods like chocolate mud cake or chocolate icing can also make a dog sick.

How much chocolate does a dog have to eat to get sick?

  • This depends on:
      • the size of your Spaniel
      • The type of chocolate; and
    • Whether they have eaten the chocolate on an empty stomach
    • For example, a 10kg dog can be seriously affected by a 125g of milk chocolate (just over 1/2 family block of chocolate). A Cavalier King Spaniel is around 6-8kg, and Cockers are approx. 12-15kg. 

What are the signs of chocolate toxicity?

The signs occur within 6-12h of eating and initially are nausea, vomiting diarrhoea, thirst, increased peeing, shortness of breath. These symptoms get increasingly worse with time.  

What can you do?

  • Make sure any chocolate is out of reach of your Spaniel.
  • Make sure your little people don't share they Christmas treats with their furry friend.
  • If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, note the amount and type of chocolate they have eaten.
  • Call your nearest Vet Emergency Hospital and get their advice – depending on how much they have eaten you may have to take them in for observation and/or treatment.

Any holiday season can be hectic, the last thing you want is a sick dog, so just be aware of the foods around your dog and avoid any problems.

If you have any comments or questions, let me know. Of course, if you have any concerns about your pet's health, please contact your friendly local vet. 

toxic food for dogs chocolcate



1. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2009 Sep; 2(3): 169–176. Published online 2009 Sep 28. doi: 10.2478/v10102-009-0012-4

2. Merck Vet Manual

Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash


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