Pet Talk

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Dr Ann ChauvetWhy is dark (baking) chocolate more toxic to dogs than milk chocolate?

All chocolates are not created equal and any chocolate lover can tell you so. Many have only chocolate flavors. Milk chocolate, for example, has a low percentage of coco bean. Dark chocolate, on the other hand has a high percentage of coco bean, ranging from 50-90%. The more coco, the darker and the more bitter the chocolate, the more risk arises. Coco has an agent called theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and like caffeine, can lead to tremors, seizures and even death. Toxin doses are 20 mg/kg and up and death can occur at 200 mg/kg of theobromine. Baking chocolate has about 150-450 mg of theobromine per ounce and is very dangerous if ingested. Chocolate toxicity signs may not arise for hours and can last days. The rule of thumb is, if in doubt call your vet clinic and let them know what chocolate your dog ingested. They will guide you to either induce vomiting if needed, or to bring your dog in for treatment even before the symptoms arise.


Cats seem so limber; do they also have back (spine) problems? If yes – what type?

Yes, cats also suffer from disc herniation albeit rare. Spine cancer is another problem cats may face. Some breeds have anomalies of the spine (Manx). In general, cats do indeed present with less back problems than dogs.


My poodle had a surgery for bloat (stomach torsion). What is the likelihood of this happening again?

Bloat, which is gas filling of the stomach, can happen again. If the stomach is tacked however, torsion is unlikely anymore. This is why we often recommend doing stomach tacking in large breed and deep chested dogs before the problem arise. For example, my dachshund Tommy had bloat and torsed his stomach like a wet cloth that you ring out. His stomach needed to be tacked on both ends. His problem was inflammatory bowel disease. He still gets gas and I have to watch his food (no gluten), but overall he’s a happy dog now.

Dr. Chauvet earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon,Canada,and is known internationally for her specialized work in the relatively rare field of veterinary neurology speaking to, training, and consulting with veterinary practices and organizations globally.  If you have a question about your pet, please email your question to  Each month, Dr. Chauvet will choose a few questions to share with readers.  She regrets that unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.


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