Animals often have a “sweet tooth” too
While recent studies have shown that chocolate may be beneficial for human health, it is important to know that chocolate can be toxic, and sometimes even fatal, for animals.
Dogs are most commonly affected, due to their ability to find it and the common ‘sweet tooth’ they seem to have. It is important to remember that cats and other species are susceptible to the toxic effects of chocolate, too.
What makes chocolate toxic, anyway?
Chocolate is made from the fruit (beans) of the cacao tree. Theobromine, a component of chocolate, is a toxic compound in chocolate. Caffeine is also present in chocolate and a toxic component, but in much smaller amounts than Theobromine. Both Theobromine and Caffeine are members of a drug class called Methylxanines.
Theobromine and caffeine effects on the body:
- Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant
- Cardiovascular stimulant
- Increase blood pressure (mild)
- Nausea and vomiting
Why isn’t chocolate toxic to humans?
Humans can break down and excrete Theobromine much more efficiently than dogs. The half life of Theobromine in the dog is long; approximately 17.5 hours.
Are some chocolates more toxic than others?
Yes. Unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate contains 8-10 times the amount of Theobromine as milk chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate falls roughly in between the two for Theobromine content. White chocolate contains Theobromine, but in such small amounts that Theobromine poisoning is unlikely.
Caffeine is present in chocolate, but less than Theobromine.