Today, in Ask Frank, Franklin offers advice on how to keep your cats safe for the holidays. I would like to augment Frank’s comments by telling you a true story.

One Christmas season, a colleague of mine had to care for his seriously ill dog. Lexy was an adorable miniature Schnauzer, which served many years as his clinic dog. Many veterinarians have animals that roam their clinics as good will ambassadors or demonstration pets. Some are animals that need a home and live in a clinic.

My colleague, Dr. Robin Downing of Windsor Veterinary Clinic and the Downing Center for Pain Management, cracked me up one evening when she came to visit my cat practice. She took my big orange boy, Fletcher, the most laid back and funny clinic cat and personal pet I had, grabbed his back feet, and held him upside down. Fletch relaxed and acquiesced to the position. Robin said, “Dead rabbit in a meat locker.” I nearly fell on the floor laughing. She told me many years later that this was her test to see how a cat would act in a clinic situation. I never let her forget poor Fletcher hanging from her hand like a bat sleeping in a cave.

Back to Lexy. At home, she got into a giant size Hershey Bar® and ate the whole thing. Her human brought her to the clinic as usual, where she spent her time in his office chair covered with an afghan, looking like a poster child for animal poison control. Everything turned out just fine for Lexy, but that was her last exposure to chocolate.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. It is a long-lasting toxin that can lead to convulsions and death.

ASPCA Poison Control offers advice on how to diagnose and treat your dog. My main point is that you should get your dog to its veterinarian ASAP. Talk to the is another good resource.

To avoid problems with toxicity, please send all chocolate  to me.

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