Don't let your cat or dog become a chocoholic

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572


I've always known that chocolate was bad for our little furry friends -- both dogs and cats -- but I've never really understood why. Since I'm pretty much a chocoholic, albeit a controlled chocoholic (can there be such a thing?), and Zoey the cool cat lives with me,

I thought I'd see what the Internet said about chocolate poisoning for pets and the signs of chocolate poisoning. I do keep chocolate candy bars on the kitchen counter, and while Zoey knows that certain areas of the house are out of bounds (e.g., kitchen countertops, dining room table, top of refrigerator since there's an intermediate stop on the kitchen countertop, and my grand piano), one always has to be prepared when there's an animal involved.

So off we go ("into the wild blue yonder." Or is "to follow the yellow brick road"?) to investigate chocolate.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, and the toxic component is theobromine. I would have thought that anything that ends in "bromine" probably would have had some bromine in it, but not in this case. Theobromine is simply a derivation of Theobroma, which is the genus of the cacao tree.

Theobromine was discovered in 1841 in cacao beans and isolated in 1878. Uses in modern medicine include as a diuretic and heart stimulant. I can vouch for the heart stimulant; my heart beats a few times faster when there's chocolate in the room -- LOL.

Interestingly, theobromine is one of the byproducts when the human liver processes caffeine.

The toxic dose of theobromine for our pets is 100-200 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of pet weight, although the ASPCA has documented problems at concentrations as low as 20 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of weight.

Worst chocolates for your pets:

  1. Unsweetened chocolate, also known as baker's chocolate -- 390-450 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
  2. Semi-sweet chocolate -- 150-300 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
  3. Milk chocolate -- 44-60 milligrams of theobromine per ounce
  4. White chocolate -- small amounts; poisoning unlikely

Translated into something we can understand, a 50 pound dog would have to eat about nine ounces of milk chocolate to ingest 20 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of weight. Zoey the cool cat would have to eat about two ounces.

I found a list of warning signs for chocolate poisoning for our pets, and the same list was in several articles. I don't really like the final item on the list, "death." I would ask, "Can death be a WARNING sign?" I guess it could be if you have other pets. Anyway, here's the warning signs:

  • excitement
  • nervousness
  • trembling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • excessive thirst accompanied by excessive urination
  • muscle spasms
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

Take care of your pets.

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Some of Jim's blog entries

  1. If you needed to hide from someone, could you do it in today's world?
  2. Loose lips don't always sink ships. Sometimes they just make you smile.
  3. How much sleep do you get each day?
  4. Are you prepared for an emergency?
  5. Tuesday laugh session with the "treadmill kitty cats"

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Konnie Mac McCarthy
McLean, VA
Associate Broker - VA & MD

My dog is 130 pounds ate an entire bag of herserys kisses....foil and all...and didn't skip a beat.....this dog has the worst sweet tooth I've ever seen.....

Nov 19, 2008 11:01 PM #1
Heather the Realtor Orlando, Lake Mary
LemonTree Realty - Orlando, FL
First Time Home Buyers, Bank Owned Homes

I agree that we should usually not feed our pets human food unless it's not processed or fully cooked. I had cat that screamed his head off every time we cooked chicken because he knew he would get some. HE also loved corn on the cob. It was a pain. Loved him but learned to quite feeding table scraps and you will be happier with your pet.

Nov 19, 2008 11:18 PM #2
Kelly Willey
Long and Foster BEL AIR MARYLAND - Bel Air, MD
Short Sale Agent - Harford County Maryland Real Estate

Easter is tough for my Zeke as he always gets into the baskets and I find empty foil Kiss wrappers under the beds and him puking and panting like a crack head...LOL


maryland real estate foreclosure short sale

Nov 19, 2008 11:31 PM #3
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

I hope that your post is read by some people who aren't aware of this danger.  There are so many things pets shouldn't be fed....better to be safe and not give them people food!

Nov 19, 2008 11:35 PM #4
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY


This is a great post especially at this time of year when gift baskets are sitting on every table and under every tree. Thanks for reminding us to protect our pets!


Nov 19, 2008 11:38 PM #6
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Jim, this is a great danger to our pets. With the holidays coming around, thanks for the reminder to keep chocolate out of reach.

Nov 19, 2008 11:48 PM #7
Joel Weihe
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits

Great advice.  I often feel guilty enjoying a big hershey's bar in front of the furry crew, couldn't imagine life without chocolate.  But.... i think I'd give up chocolate if I could enjoy the life of a cat (house cat, that is!)

Nov 20, 2008 11:15 AM #8
Brian Burke
Kenna Real Estate - Lone Tree, CO
Broker & Advising Expert-Denver Luxury Real Estate

Jim - lucky for me our cat doesn't like chocolate, I would know, she would be eating mine! LOL. She does like whip cream though... ~Rita

Nov 20, 2008 01:19 PM #9
Maureen Megowan
Remax Estate Properties - - Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Palos Verdes Real Estate Blog

I had a friend whose dog got into some bakers chocolate while they were moving and unfortunately died. More pet owners need to know how dangerous chocolate is for dogs

Nov 25, 2008 08:27 AM #10
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Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
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