Joann Elliott of Houston sent a photo of granddaughter with dog.

Dear Readers: What it is about chocolate that makes it bad for your dog yet taste good to humans?

It's the same ingredients that make it a favorite treat for humans that can cause serious health problems in dogs — fat and caffeine-like stimulants. Dark or white chocolate, it doesn't matter. Both are bad, but for different reasons.

Dark chocolate has a large amount of the stimulant, but less fat, while white chocolate has more fat, with less caffeine-like stimulant. In fact, if a pooch that weighs less than 10 pounds eats as little as 2 ounces of baking chocolate (the darkest), there is the potential for serious health problems. At first, you may notice vomiting or diarrhea, abnormal urination and thirst.

White chocolate is a no-no, too! It doesn't have as much of the stimulant, but it has a much higher fat content, which can cause a whole bunch of health issues, the worst being pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening. Our Cabbie, a miniature schnauzer, has had pancreatitis twice from getting into a garbage can and scarfing down some high-fat trash. It's not fun — she almost died — and it's very expensive to treat.

We all love to indulge our pups, but stick to the veterinarian-recommended goodies.

Thanks to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for this information. Visit www.aspca.org/apcc to learn what's poisonous to your pets. —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I certainly enjoy your hints, especially the funny pet names. Perhaps you can add this to your delightful collection of names: I once had a wonderful St. Bernard named Baron Von Oftenslobber. —Marsha Swanson, Hays, Kan.

Love the name! Can't resist including a couple more to make you smile:

• A Reader, via e-mail, has a kitty named Oscar de la Kitty.

• Virginia Welch of Hampton, Conn., says: "When our German shepherd was left alone for the first time, he tore up everything — newspapers, magazines, pillows, part of a rug. There was dirt and broken glass in the debris. When we came home, we thought the place had been vandalized! So, we named him Vandal!"

• June Post of Bedford, Texas, says, "How about these — a snake: a Boa Named Sue; a parakeet: Winston Chirphill; and two little bunnies: Rabbit E. Lee and Hare E. Truman."—Heloise

Dear Readers: Joann Elliott of Houston sent a photo of her granddaughter with the family dog giving her a kiss on the ear. Joann says: "I was worried when my granddaughter was born, since their dog was large and not accustomed to children. As the photo shows, my fears were unwarranted." —Heloise


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