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Animal Oral toxicity (mg/kg)
Cat 200
Dog 16 300
Human 26 ~1,000
Mouse 837
Rat 1,265
Structure of theobromine (IUPAC name: 3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione)

Theobromine poisoning or chocolate poisoning is an overdose reaction to the xanthine alkaloid theobromine, found in chocolate, tea, cola beverages,[1] açaí berries,[citation needed] and some other foods. Lethal (LD50) doses of theobromine have only been published for humans, cats, dogs, rats, and mice; these differ by a factor of 6 across species (see the table in this article).


In humans[edit]

Cocoa beans contain about 1.2% theobromine by weight,[citation needed] so an ounce (28g) of raw cacao contains approximately 0.3g theobromine. Processed chocolate, in general, has smaller amounts. The amount found in highly refined chocolate candies (typically 1.4–2.1 g/kg or 40–60 mg/oz) is much lower than that of dark chocolate or unsweetened baker's chocolate (> 14 g/kg or > 400 mg/oz). In general, the amount of theobromine found in chocolate is small enough such that chocolate can be safely consumed by humans. However, occasional serious side effects may result from the consumption of large quantities, especially in the elderly.[2][not in citation given]

In other species[edit]

Serious poisoning happens more frequently in domestic animals, which metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans, and can easily consume enough chocolate to cause chocolate poisoning. If large numbers of filled chocolate candies are consumed, another serious danger is posed by the fat and sugar in the fillings, which can sometimes trigger life-threatening pancreatitis several days later.[citation needed] The most common victims of theobromine poisoning are dogs,[3][4] for which it can be fatal. The toxic dose for cats is even lower than for dogs. However, cats are less prone to eating chocolate since they are unable to taste sweetness.[5] Theobromine is less toxic to rats, mice, and humans, who all have an LD50 of about 1,000 mg/kg.

The first version of this page nearly ruined Christmas for Janet Hulm.The original article for this page nearly ruined Christmas 2008 for Janet Hulm.[6]

External links[edit]

This is a chocolate dog, not a dog who ate chocolate.
  1. ^ Gennaro, M. C.; Abrigo, C. (1992). "Caffeine and theobromine in coffee, tea and cola-beverages". Fresenius' Journal of Analytical Chemistry. 343 (6): 523–525. doi:10.1007/BF00322162. ISSN 0937-0633.
  2. ^ THEOBROMINE from the Hazardous Substances Data Bank
  3. ^ "Dog owners get chocolate warning". BBC. December 30, 2008. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  4. ^ "Greedy dog cheats chocolate death". BBC. April 3, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  5. ^ Biello, David (August 16, 2007). "Strange but True: Cats Cannot Taste Sweets". Scientific American. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  6. ^ Hulm, Janet (2015). The Christmas the dogs ate my chocolate. Athens, Oh.: Addie Publ. ISBN 111122222444433333 Check |isbn= value: length (help).