Toxic Choc – PDSA Warns pet Owners About the Dangers of Sweet Treats

Chocolate is a favourite treat for many, and the upcoming Christmas celebration may feel like the perfect time to indulge, however it can pose a real threat to our furry family members.

In the 2022 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, 60 per cent of owners said they regularly give their pet human food, demonstrating just how important it is to be aware of the dangers posed by chocolate and to resist puppy dog eyes.

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which, while safe for humans, is toxic to dogs, cats, and rabbits.

“This substance is found in cocoa, the ingredient which gives chocolate it’s colour and flavour. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and the more toxic it is to our pets.


“Theobromine is a similar substance to caffeine and, when ingested, can cause the nervous system to go into overdrive. This typically causes symptoms such as hyperactivity or restlessness, diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

“Symptoms of poisoning will normally show anywhere between two and 12 hours after your four-legged friend has eaten something containing chocolate. These can include faster breathing, shaking and tremors, seizures, and an increased heart rate.

What to do if your pet eats chocolate

“If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, even if you think it’s a small amount, it’s important to contact your vet immediately. Acting quickly is essential as, in severe cases, chocolate poisoning can be fatal if treatment is delayed.

“When taking your pet to your vet, be sure to take any wrappers or packaging of the item ingested along with you and try to work out how much your pet may have eaten. The vet will assess your furry family member and provide appropriate treatment.

“Fortunately, most cases don’t result in long term problems and if the right treatment is provided as soon as possible, the majority of pets will make a full recovery.


“It is important that you and other family members are aware of the dangers posed if your furry friend consumes chocolate. Make sure any children in the house, along with visitors, know not to feed sweet treats to pets.

“Ensure any chocolate, or treats that may contain it like chocolate chip muffins, are kept out of paws’ reach, and be especially mindful around Halloween and Christmas when this type of food is more readily available.

“A lesser-known cause of theobromine poisoning can come from some gardening mulches as they contain cocoa shell. Therefore, check the ingredients if you are buying mulch to add to the garden – particularly if a pet has access to it.”

For more information about the dangers of chocolate visit

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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