Since it ‘tis the season’ for holiday festivities, snow and ice (depending on where you might reside), over-cooking and over-eating, I thought I would share with you my “short” list of various common (and a few NOT so common) household items, food substances, and plants that should never pass through or between your dog’s lips!  The food items listed with the notation (in excess) indicate that should your dog ingest “one or two”, you don’t necessarily have to make a trip to the Emergency Room.  However, they should not be fed in excess.  Also, I do have some of the items on hand simply because they are needed around the house to make the humans comfortable, but they are kept in safe places, where no dog dares to go!


Let’s start with “food” item that should be avoided:

·        Chocolate – theobromine  (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  There is always “more” chocolate around during the Holidays!  Keep it up high and away from sniffing noses!) 

The levels at which toxicity may occur are as follows:

1 ounce per pound of body weight  (2 ounces per kg of body weight) for milk chocolate;

1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight (1 ounce per 1.5 kg body weight) for semi-sweet chocolate;

1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight (1 ounce per 4 kg) for baker's chocolate;

·        Grapes (in excess)

·        Raisins (in excess)

·        Onions (in excess)

·        Garlic (in excess) 

·        Sugarless Candy containing Xylitol

·        Coffee grounds/beans (caffeine)

·        Tea  (caffeine)

·        Alcoholic beverages  (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  After you make the Christmas Toast, make sure Fido doesn’t sneak in and lap up Uncle Pete’s martini while Uncle Pete is in the other room opening his gifts!)

·        Macadamia Nuts  (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Keep the Fruit Cake Aunt Marge brought over in the refrigerator!  Are there nuts in Fruit Cakes?)

·        Persimmon Seeds

·        Potato peelings/Green potatoes

·        Broccoli (in excess)

·        Yeast dough 

·        Turkey Skin -- There have been reports of dogs not being able to digest the skin and this can lead to pancreatitis.

·        Raw Salmon -- It is caused from the infection by a rickettsial organism, Neorickettsia helminthoeca. SPD has been known since the early 19th century in North America. It had been observed that dogs that ate raw salmon frequently died; however, the connection between the fluke and the rickettsia was not established at this time.  It is unusual in that the rickettsial organism does not directly infect the dog but is instead carried by a parasite, a trematode (flatworm or fluke) called Nanophyteus salmincola through two intermediate hosts first: freshwater snails and salmonid fish (salmon, trout and steelhead).

Nanophyteus salmincola are found to infect freshwater snails particularly Oxytrema plicifer. The infected snail forms part of the salmonid species food web and is ingested. Neither the fluke nor the rickettsial organism act as pathogens in the fish. The dog is exposed only when it ingests the secondary host - an infected fish. After the dog ingests the fish, the encysted fluke larvae burst and embed in the dog’s intestinal tract and the rickettsia are introduced. The cycle continues when ova are excreted in dog feces to infect snails.


Indoor “plants” that should be avoided:


·        Aloe Vera

·        Dieffenbachia

·        Draecena

·        Asparagus fern

·        Rubber plant

·        Schefflera

·        Poinsettia (MERRY CHRISTMAS! If you decorate with the real thing, put them up high the plant grazers can’t reach them!)


A few outdoor “plants” that you may not want in your garden:


·        Azalea

·        Rhododendron

·        Hibiscus

·        Lily of the valley

·        Apple seeds

·        Cherry pits/leaves

·        Acorn

·        Amaryllis  (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  I have noticed these flowering plants being sold in recent years during the Holiday Season, so be careful should you receive one in your Stocking!)

·        Chrysanthemum

·        Daffodil Bulbs

·        Dieftenbachia (Dumb Cane)

·        Holly (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Another Holiday plant that needs to be monitored!  Very pretty but could be very costly if you have to make a trip to the vet on Christmas morning!)

·        Mistletoe Berries (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Since Santa is usually “kissed” underneath the Mistletoe, I am going to assume that this will be hanging and unless you have a Lords-a-Leaping type Dog, things should be pretty safe!)

·        Tomato leaves/vines

·        Rhubarb

·        Spinach

·        Bittersweet

·        Nutmeg Nuts (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  While you are making and baking your favorite Christmas Treats, make sure you don’t leave the nuts on the counter…for those Golden Counter-Surfers!)

·        Yard Mushrooms

·        Apricot pits

·        Castor Beans

·        Buckeyes


Common  “supposedly” Non-Edible Items to be avoided:


·        Antifreeze (Ethelene Glycol)

·        Ibuprofen (Advil)

·        Tylenol

·        Slug Bait Metaldehyde

·        Moth balls (What crazy dog would eat a mothball is beyond me!?)

·        De-Icing Salts  (There are pet-safe de-icers now available)

·        Pesticides  (See www.smilingblueskies.com for more information on pesticides)

·        Organic fertilizers which use fish meal, bone meal, blood meal,

feather meal, and/or manure

·        Tinsel (MERRY CHRISTMAS!  If you have to use Tinsel for a finishing touch to the tree, be safe and put a baby gate around the tree! Ingested tinsel wrapped around intestines, isn’t the kind of “wrappings” we want to be unwrapping on Christmas morning!)

·        Tobacco

·        Old batteries (of the swallowing size)




Edible Dog Yummies & Toys that have caused problems:


·        Booda Velvets

·        Cow Hooves

·        Greenies (if swallowed in large pieces)

·        Plush Toys with Squeakers

·        Rawhides (can be dangerous if large pieces are swallowed)

·        Actually anything that a dog should or shouldn’t be chewing on can cause an obstruction.  Always monitor!


Please note:  It is difficult to give concise information about plant toxicities, as there are hundreds of plants that are potentially poisonous to animals. Reports of animals getting seriously ill from eating plants are relatively infrequent compared to reports of poisonings from household products/food and/or drugs.  Information on “exact” food toxicities is difficult to give as well, as each pet will react differently based on body weight, etc. 

While we can’t put our dogs in a plastic bubble, we can be more observant of the hazards in their environment.  I think one of the more important things to remember is that dogs of all ages will explore, using both their noses and mouths. The nose does the sniffing, the mouth does the licking, chewing and swallowing!  Take a look around your home.  Pretend you are the dog!  Look for the "toys" and "entertainment" that might be dangerous to your friend.  When you find it, remove it!

Below is a good reference for Emergencies!  Print it out and post it on your refrigerator!

ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center — 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435)
$50.00 per case (Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express). The Center will do as many follow-up calls as necessary in critical cases, and at the owners request will contact their veterinarian. These follow-up calls can be made by calling 888-299-2973. The Center also provides via fax specific treatment protocols and current literature citations when indicated.

Until next time, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas…and A Happy New Year”….!!

Until next time….remember:

If you can “see” it, you can “do” it….

If you “believe” in it, there’s nothing to it!!

(From “I BELIEVE” lyrics….R. Kelly)

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