I recently spent a few days labeled uncaring and ill-informed because of a dog’s name. (I get yelled at for all sorts of things.) The name in question? Snickers. The critic asserted, rather forcefully, that the name would encourage children to poison dogs. Confused? Let me help you connect those disparate dots. Snickers is a candy bar heavy on the chocolate. Chocolate is potentially toxic to dogs (and cats). Chocolate contains the chemical theobromine, a heart stimulant and diuretic. Dogs don’t metabolize theobromine very well, leading to the toxic reaction. Darker, more bitter chocolate is more dangerous. Hence, I am an insensitive boob for allowing a shelter dog to carry the name Snickers.
I absolutely agree that we should be careful of what our pets ingest. Chocolate is on a long list of human foods which pets should avoid, along with avocado, alcohol, citrus fruits, coconut, grapes, raisins, most types of nuts, milk, dairy, onions, garlic, and chives. I obviously do not agree, however, that a dog’s sweet name is a likely trigger for poisoning, and since the pup showed up in our care already named Snickers it seemed best to avoid one more challenge for him (i.e., he knew his name, if not where it comes from). But that got me wondering about the popularity of such names.
A quick web search confirmed what I suspected. Whomever wants to make the case for “disqualifying” potentially dangerous foods from the list of common names given to our dogs has a lot of work ahead of them. The toxic-for-canine chocolate goodies currently on the list of 100 most common names given to dogs include Brownie, Candy, Coco, Cookie, Mocha, Oreo, Snickers (which started this whole mess), and Tootsie (as in Roll). But as we know, it’s not just chocolate. Other risky foods on that list of popular names are Bean (some beans are toxic, all can of course make a gassy species gassier), Brandy (alcohol is toxic for dogs), and Peanut (nuts are just as dangerous as chocolate). Sweet names for a sweet species? I do not see this changing anytime soon!