There is an email going around entitled: “Warning to Pet Owners – Not a Joke!” Snopes says this email is “partially true”. The details of the email warning (manufacturer, stores where it is sold, how many dogs died) are what make it possibly more of a rumor. But the FACTS are absolutely true. If you receive email updates to this blog, feel free to forward the blog article or link via your email. The link to this article is:
What are the FACTS? Cocoa, chocolate, the theobromine contained in cocoa, the caffeine contained in cocoa, are TOXIC to both dogs and cats.
Here are the precise quotes from the ASPCA:
Is chocolate as dangerous for cats as it is for dogs?
Carla, while dogs tend to be most commonly affected largely due to their eating habits, chocolate can indeed be toxic to cats, as well as other pets. Depending on the type and amount ingested, chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, panting, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures—and even death in severe cases. Because of its toxic potential, we would advise against allowing your cat to consume chocolate.
Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch
Cocoa bean mulch is popular in our neighborhood. Is this toxic to dogs?
It depends, Julie. Dogs who consume enough cocoa bean shell mulch could potentially develop signs similar to that of chocolate poisoning, including vomiting and diarrhea. In cases where very large amounts of mulch have been consumed, muscle tremors or other more serious neurological signs could occur. To date, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has not received any cases involving animal deaths due to cocoa mulch ingestion.
One key point to remember is that some dogs, particularly those with indiscriminate eating habits, can be attracted to any kind of organic matter. If you have a dog who tends to be, shall we say, less than finicky, it is important that your dog not be left unsupervised or allowed in areas where such materials are being used.
In case you have not already seen it, please read this article (.pdf) on our website that provides additional information on cocoa bean shell mulch.
Cocoa Bean Mulch as a Cause of Methylxanthine Toxicosis in Dogs
- Low doses of methylxanthines in dogs cause gastrointestinal upset in Dogs
- High doses cause tachycardia, muscle tremors, seizures and even death
- Drolet documented the death of a dog after eating a large amount of cocoa bean shell mulch containing 0.46% theobromine
- Cases we managed involved dogs which developed vomiting, tremors, tachycardia, hyperactivity, or diarrhea with full recovery
- Clinical severity appears to correlate with increasing qualitative dose descriptions
- Treatment of affected dogs includes multiple dose activated charcoal (2 g/kg PO) and tremor control with cardiac monitoring
- Urinary bladder catheterization may reduce reabsorption of methylxanthines
- Other potential exposures include pesticides and mycotoxin-producing mold
- Dogs may experience clinical effects from large ingestions of cocoa bean shell mulch but life-threatening signs were not reported
- We recommend avoiding use of cocoa bean shell mulch in landscaping around unsupervised dogs
You may wish to play it safe rather than sorry.