Love your dog? Make sure to keep your Valentine’s Day chocolates out of reach

Some dogs (and people) will eat whatever is put in front of them. And while some foods may seem like tasty treats, they could do far more harm than good. Chocolate, for instance, can be deadly.

Why chocolate is bad for dogs

Dog licking its chops

Source: Pond5

Look at that face! Is there an open box of chocolates nearby? Quick, put it away.

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, compounds that belong to a group of chemicals known as methylxanthines. The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of methylxanthines and the greater the risk of it being toxic to a dog. Symptoms of poisoning generally depend on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate it ate.

I recently interviewed veterinarian Dr. Tom Netland, who owns the Cumberland Animal Clinic, about pet safety tips. He told me that he sees a lot of chocolate poisoning in dogs over the Christmas holidays when there’s a lot of candy around.The same might hold true for Valentine’s Day or soon after. “We’ve had a number of cases where candy was wrapped and dogs could smell it and they tore into it and got chocolate toxicity. We don’t see it much in cats because cats are sort of fastidious about what they eat. Even if a cat has a big box of chocolates in front of them, they usually wouldn’t eat it. Dogs would eat the whole thing!”

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Severe agitation
  • Muscle tremors
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • High body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Death

If you have any concerns at all, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. I also found a Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter on You enter your dog’s weight, the type of chocolate and amount consumed and it will let you know the level of toxicity.

Better yet, take my grandmother’s advice. She used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you’re a dog owner and got a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates from your sweetheart, share the love by storing what’s left where your salivating pooch can’t get at them. (Of course, if you’re like me, the box is already empty!)

box of chocolates

jill111 / Pixabay

Love to you all — and your doggies. What kind of dog do you have? Right now, I don’t have one, just four cats. And they turn their noses up at chocolates!


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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now, she's a baby boomer not interested in retiring. She writes the Catching Health blog and is a regular guest on the WCSH6/WLBZ2 Morning Report. She's also a college art student at USM. You can read about that adventure on Diane's other blog She says it's good (and healthy) to be busy!