Chocolate toxicity in dogs; protect your pet

It’s a reminder that we hear every Easter – chocolate is toxic for pets.

Just like many other holidays, such as Halloween or Christmas, Easter celebrations can cause a lot of harm to our pet.

Most pet owners are already aware of this and make sure the chocolate is kept well away for their dog.

But, every year, many dogs are finding themselves at the vets after getting their paws on their owners’ Easter treats.


chocolate is toxic for dogs
Border Collie Banjo ended up at the vets after eating half a block of chocolate at Easter (pic: supplied)


Chocolate is toxic for pets

PETstock vet Dr Katherine Macmillan is urging people to take some simple steps to avoid chocolate toxicity in their dog.

“Most people are aware that chocolate is toxic for pets,” says Dr Macmillan.

“The main ingredient that causes problems, theobromine, is found in the cocoa beans that are used to make chocolate.

“Like caffeine, dogs can’t metabolise theobromine and this can lead to a range of serious problems, including death.”

Dr Macmillan says the level of chocolate toxicity a dog suffers depends on the cocoa content of the chocolate that is eaten.

“Baking chocolate presents the biggest risk; dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk, while white chocolate is the least likely to cause problems.”


Signs your dog might have ingested chocolate

Dr Macmillan says the signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs can develop in two to 12 hours after the chocolate is eaten.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Twitching and stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Elevated temperature
  • Elevated heart rate



Pet owners should seek veterinary treatment immediately if their dog has eaten any chocolate.

“Even better, if you think that your dog has eaten a significant quantity of chocolate, take them to the vet before they show signs of being unwell,” says Dr Macmillan.

“The vet will induce vomiting which will stop the toxins being absorbed”.

chocolate is toxic to dogs
Find treats that are pet-friendly for your dog this Easter, like donuts made specially for pooches!


Prevent chocolate toxicity in dogs

Ensuring your pet doesn’t eat any chocolate is the simplest way to avoid them getting sick.

Dr Macmillan has compiled the following tips to keep pets safe and avoid unwanted visits to the vet

Storage: store ALL Easter eggs in a high place and out of reach of even the most clever canine. Dogs have a strong sense of smell, so what may be well hidden for a child will not work with a dog and their super-sensitive nose!

Creating a safe Easter hunt: place your dog in a separate room or area while you set up and carry out the Easter egg hunt. If possible, create a map that includes information on where you have placed the eggs so you know where they are in case some are missed by the hunters!

Wrapping: after the Easter egg hunt, make sure that no foil or wrapping from the chocolate is left behind. The remnants of the chocolate will make them extremely enticing to dogs but, if ingested, the wrapping will be difficult for dogs to digest.

Training: if you see your dog steal an egg or eat some wrapping, ask them to ‘drop’ it or offer them a valued toy or tasty treat as a swap. Training your pet to give up items in their mouth when you ask will come in handy at times like these.

Common foods that are toxic to dogs
A list of foods that are toxic to dogs, and can make them very ill.


Other toxic items

There are many other items that can make pets sick, not just chocolate, and Easter celebrations are full of them!

Some other popular items that are consumed at Easter that are dangerous for dogs include:

  • Hot cross buns – the ones that contain sultanas, currants or raisins are very toxic
  • Lollies
  • Alcohol

For more information, or to find some pet-friendly Easter treat ideas, head to

If Easter celebrations or trips away will cause your pet anxiety, read how to use technology to alleviate anxiety in dogs!