Category Archives: Tips

Holiday Toxins

The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about a potentially poisoned pet. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.



* Holiday Ornaments: When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If your pet chews on them the liquid inside could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.


* Tinsel: If you own a cat, forgo the tinsel. What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. Tinsel does not pose a poisoning risk but can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed. Ultimately, cats run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of their intestines and treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery.


* Plants: Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe.

“Lilies, including tiger, Asiatic, stargazer, Easter and day lilies, are the most dangerous plants for cats,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, assistant direct of Pet Poison Helpline. “The ingestion of one to two leaves or flower petals is enough to cause sudden kidney failure in cats.”

  • Other yuletide pants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset and even heart arrhythmias if ingested.


* Alcohol: Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure. Additionally, foods such as desserts containing alcohol and unbaked dough that contains yeast should be kept away from pets as they may result in alcohol toxicity, vomiting, disorientation and stomach bloat.


* Holiday Foods: With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise (and in some cases is quite dangerous) to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems include:

  • Foods containing grapes, raisins and currents (such as fruit cakes) can result in kidney failure in dogs.
  • Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, a chemical highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion in small amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts can cause seizures and heart arrhythmias.
  • Many sugarless gums and candies contain xylitol, a sweetener which is toxic to dogs. It causes a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and liver failure.
  • Leftover, fatty meat scraps can produce severe inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.


* Imported Snow Globes: Recently, imported snow globes were found to contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol). As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze when ingested by a cat or a tablespoon or two for a dog (depending on their size), can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. While signs may seem to improve after eight to twelve hours, internal damage is actually worsening, and crystals develop in the kidneys resulting in acute kidney failure. Immediate treatment with an antidote is vital.


* Liquid Potpourri: Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting, but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs are not as sensitive, but it is still better to be safe than sorry, so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach.

When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly



Tips for Moving with your Pet

Moving can be stressful on people and their pets.  To help relieve anxiety, here are some tips from to help ensure your big move goes off without a hitch.

1. Keep pets safe and secure. With all the noise, open doors and potential chaos involved in a move, it’s important for clients to make sure their pet is safe, happy, and secure. Encourage clients to put their pet in a quiet and safe place. This quiet spot should be a place that the pet is familiar and comfortable with. Maybe it’s a travel crate placed in an out of the way place, or perhaps a bathroom. Be sure that the pet can’t escape during the move. If the pet is in a room, clients can place a sign on the door alerting others to not enter. Another option is to encourage clients to have their pet stay at a friend or relative’s house or a doggy day care on moving day.

2. Check on pets regularly. If clients will be keeping their pet at home on moving day, they need to check in on it regularly. It’s important to maintain the pet’s regular routine for feeding, walks, bathroom breaks, and cuddling.

3. Create familiar surroundings. One of the best ways clients can help their pet become comfortable in a new environment more quickly is to have their things in it before introducing the pet into the new place. Whether it be a favorite chair, dog bed, throw rug, toys, or all of the above, clients should surround their pet with familiar things. Clients should be prepared with all the necessary items their pet will need from day one in the new home.

4. Keep pets on leash. Pet parents need to be aware even dogs that are excellent under voice control can become distracted easily in a new neighborhood and surroundings. To prevent their pet from running off, clients should keep their dog on a leash or in a secure, fenced yard.

5. Keep a photo handy. In the unfortunate event that a client’s pet runs off, they should keep a recent photo of the pet on hand. In addition to the pet’s ID tag and microchip, a photo of the pet will help to ensure the pet’s safe return home.

Above all,  maintain a calm energy.  Pets pick up on our emotions, so deep breaths.  Moving is an adventure, a new beginning—encourage yourself to embrace it and enjoy it with your pet.