Holiday Season

The holiday season is a great time of year. The parties, the food, and the candy are all wonderful, but let’s not forget our pets. We have all heard about the stories of the dangers of feeding chocolate to pets. It sounds as though even a small amount of any chocolate will seriously affect, or even kill our dogs, cats, or birds. The truth is, chocolate can cause problems under certain circumstances, but most chocolate in small amounts will cause no problems (even in birds).

The most dangerous forms of chocolate are semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate. If your pet consumes a large quantity of semi-sweet or dark chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately! In the past, I have had a large dog (like a Labrador Retriever) consume a bowl full of Hershey’s Kisses with no ill effects.  A bite of chocolate is of no great concern, even for a bird. Some bird owners routinely give chocolate in small quantities with zero problems. I do not advise this.

Candy can contain a very dangerous substance that is harmless to people. This substance, called xylitol, is a substitute for sugar. Even in small amounts (i.e., in a stick of gum, a small pastry, etc.), xylitol can kill a cat or a dog. Always be sure to check the packaging to determine whether this material is present.

Grapes and raisins in large enough quantities can also be toxic to pets. Raisins are especially dangerous, as the toxins are concentrated compared to those found in grapes. Therefore, just a box or two of raisins can be very harmful to pets.

When in doubt, it is always advisable to check with your veterinarian to see if treatment is needed. Many times, advice from your doctor can help avoid an unnecessary (and expensive) trip to the emergency clinic.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!


David J. Smith, VMD

Bay Road Animal Hospitals