Holiday Hazards

jackie with NY Vinny and Princess ToolipThe holidays have finally arrived. Especially at this time of year, a lot of us want to include our furry family members in our holiday festivities.  But while including them in the holiday celebration is ok, including them in the holiday meal can cause them harm or worse. There are many ingredients we use automatically that while flavorful and enticing, can be harmful or fatal to your dog.  Since holiday recipes can vary widely depending on whether Great Aunt Mable or Cousin Albert once removed makes them, it’s best to make it a standard rule not feed your dog any prepared dishes. 

are you going to eat that 

Ask people what foods they think are harmful to their dogs and most will say chocolate.  Chocolate indeed is harmful to your pet but there is a long list of other foods/ingredients that are just as harmful if not more so than chocolate. Here are some of the more standard ones you may encounter over the holidays.


Pumpkin Pie

Although pumpkin itself is good for dogs, pumpkin pie has sugar, and other spices that can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea.

Pecan Pie

While also high in sugar, the nuts themselves contain the added risk of being swallowed whole.  This can lead to an intestinal blockage.  Nuts are not something easily digested and can become lodged in the intestines, which could require emergency surgery.


Even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, weakness and seizures.

Bread & Plumb Pudding

Both of these decadent holiday desserts are often made with raisins, which can cause severe and potentially fatal kidney failure in dogs. The high fat and sugar content can cause upset stomachs leading to diarrhea and pancreatitis.

dog and hamHam

Ham and pork products are very high in fat and sodium.  High fat foods cause the pancreas to overreact which is terribly painful.            

Turkey Bones

Cooked bones of any type should never be given to your dog. Cooking causes the bones to become brittle and possibly splinter.  It isn’t hard to imagine what these shards of splintered bone can do to your friend’s stomach or intestines.

Mashed Potatoes

While it is safe to give your dog potatoes, mashed potatoes may not be.  Along with lots of butter and milk, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, Great Aunt Mable’s recipe may call for onion powder or garlic.  Even in powdered/dehydrated form, both onion and garlic are VERY toxic to pets.


Like mashed potatoes, stuffing is often made with onions, or garlic.  So again, it is another item to leave off your pets holiday plate, or sneak under the table.

Salads with Grapes or Raisins

Be sure to keep all salads that may contain grapes or raisins away from your dog.  Severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure are the results of your dog snacking on these yummy little orbs.

2 dogs under mistletoeFood and tantalizing ingredients aren’t the only things that can harm your pets during the holiday season.  There are several plants we use for decoration that can pose varying threats to your pets.


Poinsettias are quite possibly one of the most prevalent plants around during the holidays.  Thankfully they are very appealing taste wise to your pets and are only mildly toxic.  However, if your cat or dog decides to take a nibble, it may cause them to drool, vomit or have diarrhea.  If they manage to get some of the sap on their skin, it can cause redness and itching.  Medical attention is rarely necessary


The berries and leaves of the Holly plant are also mildly toxic to your pets.  They can however cause vomiting, diarrhea and even depression if ingested. 


Mistletoe on the other hand is quite toxic.  A very small amount of mistletoe ingested by your pet can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing problems and even hallucinations.  If they manage to eat a large amount, it can cause seizures and even death.  Call your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has been into the mistletoe.


Amaryllis is a member of the lily family.  Though striking, if any part of the amaryllis plant is ingested, an immediate trip to your vet is needed.   Increased salivation, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure, lethargy, tremors and respiratory problems.

dog next to christmas treeChristmas Tree

Your Christmas tree pose several hazards aside from the various ornaments and lights that adorn it.  Fir trees produce oils that can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, which can cause drooling and vomiting.  Should your pet decide the needles are indeed a delicacy, they could possibly puncture their gastrointestinal tract.  Let’s not forget the water the tree is standing in.  Over a number of days, it is a great place to grow and harbor bacteria.


Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!!


~ Jackie Pinson

First Aid


NY Vinny……. “What’s in Your Dog’s First Aid Kit?”

V TI was headed to my first Greyhound event with New York Vinny.  I had no idea what to expect but it was our first real adventure together.  It was indeed an adventure.  Before dinner the first evening, the event Veterinarian, Dr. Davey Harkins, from Kansas, proclaimed “I’ve never seen a dog and owner deserve each other more than you and Vinny do” Now to some that might bring a warm, fuzzy, “aww” feeling, but Dr. Harkins was referring to the fact that Vinny and I have a propensity for accidents of all descriptions to seek us out.

That morning I managed to break my toe before I even started the trip from Grand Prairie to San Antonio. Later that evening, as we were walking to the River Walk for dinner Vinny’s accident struck.  At a little over one-year-old, Vinny pranced and bounced with anticipation everywhere he went. (He still does. Everything is an adventure waiting to be discovered.)  Somehow while crossing the street, he managed to get is foot caught in the lanyard around my neck. (don’t ask).  While Dr. Harkins stopped traffic, I got the lanyard off my neck as quickly as I could so we didn’t go down in a tangle in the middle of the street. One would think that should have been adventure enough.  But, NO!  Figure the odds of Vinny coming down on the end of the plastic ID holder and it slicing between his toes.

In true country Vet style, Dr. Harkins sat down on the curb, pulled off his cowboy boot and bandaged Vinny’s paw with his clean white sock. From out of nowhere, his wife produced the largest safety pin I have ever seen, and “ta da”, the bandage was secured.  It happened so quickly, it was like watching a calf roping event at the rodeo. With Vinny bandaged and pinned, the two of us hobbled back to the hotel to take proper care of his foot.  Luckily I had our “Go Kit” with us. I left him in the middle of a king size bed with a friend and limped back to join my group for dinner.

During dinner, the subject of first aid came up and we talked about being as prepared as possible. Back at the hotel, Dr. Harkins asked to check on my bandaging job and to see what I had in my “kit”.  While I did get a thumbs up, he kept chuckling and repeated his earlier comment about us deserving each other.  Before he left, he took a picture of Vinny’s bandaged paw and my toe resting next to each other on a pillow. 

Bull Dog with Dr. Bag

“What’s in Your Pet’s First Aid Kit?”

My choice for a First Aid “Go Kit” is an organizing plastic box (picked up at Harbor Freight). I use travel bottles for liquids, and travel sizes for Ibuprofen and Benadryl. I keep it all together so when we take off anywhere in the car, I can just pick it up and well, …GO.

It contains in part:

Wet Wipes or Grooming Wipes

While wipes may not seem like an emergency item, they can quickly become one when your dog has an accident in the back seat or roll around in a fragrant patch of grass.  You can also use them to clean dirt or blood from a wound to get a better look at what you are dealing with.

Hydrogen Peroxide

The best way to clean a minor wound is with cool running water and mild soap.  Rince the wound for at least 5 minutes to remove dirt, debris and bacteria.  There are times however when running water and soap are not an option.  In these instances, cleaning the wound as best as you can with hydrogen peroxide is a good substitute.


Veterlcyn is a nontoxic broad spectrum antimicrobial, that is even safe to use around the eyes, ears and mouth of your dog.

Pug with BandaidStyptic Powder / Wound-Kote Aerosol

Styptic Powder effectively stops bleeding and promotes clotting in minor wounds.  It contains a topical pain relieving ageng and some varieties have antiseptic properties that can help kill bacteria and prevent infection.  Wound-Kote spray is a quick drying, deep penetrating antiseptic dressing.


Betadine is a potent topical antiseptic uysed to prevent or treat infection in minor wounds.  Very effective in killing bacteria, viruses, fungi etc.

Benadryl Tablets

Benadryl is an antihistimaine used to relieve allergy symptoms, insect stings, motion sickness and travel anxiety.

Applying a Gauze MuzzleGauze Pads (Various Sizes), Vet Wrap, Scissors, Tape, cotton balls, and regular Band-Aids Various Sizes) 

In an emergency situation, gauze can control bleeding, aid in bracing for a suspected fracture. Scissors can be used to cut a shirt, blanket or towel into strips to make a more solid bandage, larger wounds, or if you run out of gauze.

Blanket or Towel (car)

If your dog is panicking or injured, gently wrapping them in a soft blanket can help calm them.  A soft towel or blanket gives you a surface to lie your dog on while examining their injury.  It can also be used as a sling should you need to help your dog stand or walk.  You can also use a towel as a soft cone.  If your dog should go into shock, being able to wrap him up and keep him warm can really make a difference. Microfiber is a good choice as it is ultra-absorbent.

Collapsible Travel Food and Water Bowls (car)

My guys have their own back pack, with collapsible food and water bowls, bottled water and yoga mat so they always have a comfortable spot to lie down and water at the ready. This is addition to the “Go Kit”  It allows me to carry their things and keep my hands free to shop or handle leashes

Ice pack that is massage activated

Cold therapy should be used on new injuries within 24 hours to 48 hours.  It is used for local swelling, pain and inflammation which is the body’s response to the tissue damage and the pain.  Ice has a very good heat absorption capability, which means it is able to absorb a lot of heat from the soft tissues resulting in cooling effects that gets to tissues deeper within the body.  Apply ice pack to the area for no more than 20 minutes at a time, stopping to examine the skin every 5-10 minutes. The skin should take on a red, slightly irritated look.


Call the veterinarian’s office/Poison Control (888-426-4435).  Remember that poisons not only can come in the form of cleaning products, anti-freeze, etc., but in the form of plants, chocolate and other substances that can seem very yummy to your dog.  If your pet ingests a toxic substance.  DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR VET OR POISON CONTROL FIRST.  Gather any information you can including remains of what your pet got into, the label, empty container, or even vomit.  Head to the vet immediately.

Taking time to learn basic First Aid techniques will benefit you and your pet.  It will help you stay calm when your pet needs you the most, and allow you to act when time may be of the essence.

~ Jackie Pinson