Pooch 911


I have a new, deep appreciation for the mysterious life-saving power of hydrogen peroxide. Pooch life-saving power, that is.

There are three things I know that can make a dog very sick and could potentially be fatal: Grapes, raisins and chocolate. The gravity of the situation depends on the size of the dog, the amount consumed and the speed with which first aid is administered.

This past week I had an incident involving my dog Celeste and a handful of raisins that had me praying to the pet gods and begging doggie to throw up. I’ll tell you how it all started, the 45 minute high-drama and the happy ending.

Doggie and toddler relaxingIt all starts with an afternoon snack I offered my son Nicolas that I could not be certain he had not shared with his best friend, pictured here.

Three o’clock is Curious George time. Well, almost anytime at our house is Curious George time. There is always a request for crackers at the beginning of the show. “Cracker’ means a number of things. It could be Veggie Sticks, or corn chips or actual crackers, either cheese or wheat. Occasionally it also means raisins.

That was my offering this past Wednesday afternoon.

Our dog Celeste likes to be close by around snack time. She’s discovered that toddlers are really messy eaters and they tend to drop a lot of the stuff they’re supposed to be eating. Nicolas also likes to share his food and Celeste , who always seems to be hungry, is very appreciative of his generosity.

After I put some raisins in a cup and  I walked back into the kitchen to tend to my cortadito — the version of cafe con leche that I’ve nearly mastered. I walked back into the living room not more than five minutes later by my calculation. Nicky asked for more raisins. He was extending the empty cup in my general direction without taking his eyes off his favorite monkey.

“Buddy, that was fast. Did you eat all these raisins?”

Without missing a beat, he points to the dog.

“Este!” he said.

“Did Celeste eat the raisins?”

He smiles and goes back to watching the show.

“Nicky, did Celeste eat the raisins?” This time my voice is a little louder.

Another smile but not definitive answer.

Panic interrupts our afternoon routine like an unexpected breaking news bulletin. I google “can dogs eat raisins?” even though I already know the answer. I click on a Snoopes link and get the confirmation I was afraid was out there: Raisins and Grapes Harmful to Dogs.

ASPCA information that raisins are harmful to dogs

Terrifying reading!

Next I find a video that suggest making the dog vomit as quickly as possible is the suggested first aid. Hydrogen peroxide is the preferred method. Suddenly, this has become a life and death situation.

I call the vet’s office. Some desperation is setting in. They tell me to call Poison Control.

As I listen to the recorded greeting, I hear that this service has been available since 1975. Then it says that due to budgetary realities it will now cost sixty five dollars to talk to a vet. Please have your Visa, Master Card or American Express ready.

Anguish joins the desperation. I don’t have sixty five dollars.

I stay on the line. I lady vet comes on the line and I blurt out the financial reality first and the emergency situation next. She wants me to detail what happened. In some cases, she says, pet pharma might cover the fee.

I explain that part of the problem I have is that I don’t know for sure if the raisins were indeed “ingested” by the worried looking dog (dogs, like kids are really good at picking up on cues. They see you worried, they will worry. Especially if you’re looking at them when you’re doing the worrying). She agrees that I can’t take the risk of assuming it was baby who ate the raisins. Lady Vet agrees with the internet info. Given the weight of the dog, three (3) teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide — 3% solution — is what they recommend as well.

“Wait five minutes,” she says, “if the dog does not vomit, then give her another three teaspoons. Call us back if you need us.”

I am grateful for the generosity, and for the confirmation of the method to be used but mostly for the fact that we have the solution on the bathroom shelf. I also have a syringe that we use to administer baby medicine.

Holding down a 90 pound dog by yourself, to inject a nasty tasting liquid into the inside of the cheek is the kind of procedure for which I’ve had no training and no preparation. You do it because you believe your dog’s life depends on it. When you adopt a pet, you’re entrusted with their welfare. They look up to you to save them from their own ignorant behavior. The same rule applies to babies.

Twenty five minutes and two and a-half doses later, there’s vomit. Jubilation!


I can stop feeling guilty now. I kiss the pooch.

After the tears, I make sacred vow that toddler, dog and raisins never, ever, under any circumstance will be alone in the same room. So help me pet god!

Dog and child loking out of window
Partners in crime and BFF

NOTE: Besides chocolate, grapes and raisins, onions and macadamia nuts can also prove deadly to a dog, according to Snopes.

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