Hints for Keeping Your Pets Healthy and Safe

The best way to avoid emergencies and illnesses is prevention.

Many Things are Poisonous to Pets

You may be surprised how many substances, foods, plants and skin lotions that you use are poisonous to pets: lilies, philodendron plats, tea tree oil and plants, DHEA creams, Voltaren Arthritis Cream, aspirin, chocolate… and more! Please read about them here: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poisons

Also, deer carry Giardia, and when a dog eats deer droppings, it can make the dog very sick. Giardia causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, and can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Xylitol is Poisonous to Pets

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is poisonous to pets but not humans. Products that may contain xylitol include:

  • peanut butter and other nut butters
  • baked goods
  • chewing gum
  • breath mints
  • cough syrup
  • children’s and adult chewable vitamins
  • mouthwash
  • toothpaste
  • some peanut and nut butters
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • dietary supplements

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse and seizures. If you think your pet has eaten xylitol, get to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Dangerous! Foxtail Grass

Foxtails are grasses with seed “awns” that are extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. Foxtail awns are barbed, razor-sharp needles, designed to burrow into the ground with the seed, but unfortunately they burrow into anything that passes. Chances are you have found them on your clothing after a walk outdoors. Dogs and cats pick them up in their fur, but the awns burrow into their skin and then keep going right into your pet’s muscles, abdomen, feet, ears, inside the nose and mouth – everywhere they can. They do not disintegrate inside your pet’s body. They cause abscesses, pain and, eventually, death.

Keep a lookout for foxtails when you are out with your pet, keep your grass and plants trimmed on your property, check your pet every day for them, and if you find one you cannot remove, GET YOUR PET TO A VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY.

If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, check for foxtails or talk to your vet:

Foxtail seeds are like velcro - they can attached themselves anywhere on your dog and are hard to removes.

Foxtail seeds are like velcro – they can attach themselves anywhere on your dog and are hard to removes. Image from aplusanimalhospital.com

• Foxtails often lodge in dogs’ feet and can easily become embedded between their toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.

 If your dog is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, it could be the sign of a foxtail — one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look in the ear using a special scope.

• Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing could be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.

 If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, a foxtail could be lodged in a nasal passage.

• Foxtails can find their way into your dog’s penis or vagina. If you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.

• Foxtails can also lodge under a dog’s skin, which causes visible swelling and/or pus discharge.

Prevent Illness:

Vaccinations may seem costly and bothersome, but the illnesses that can result from not being vaccinated are horrendous. And they can spread from pet to pet and even in some cases to people. All of them are extremely contagious and usually result in prolonged and painful death.

For dogs, rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus can all be prevented through one easy visit to a veterinary clinic.

For cats, distemper, herpes, rabies, chlamydia, and leukemia vaccinations are available in one easy visit.

Please note: Vaccines do NOT contain tracking chips! No one can track your pet’s whereabouts or yours, or your activities.

Disease symptoms of unvaccinated animals:

Rabies symptoms include aggressive, violent behavior, foaming at the mouth. Extreme dementia follows, and death is certain once the disease is contracted. The only cure is prevention.

Distemper symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of balance, and runny eyes and nose. Treatment is sometimes successful, but death is likely in young kittens.

Parvo is a killer disease, especially for puppies and kittens. It causes bloody diarrhea, because the virus eats away the intestines. Death is slow and extremely painful, and cannot be prevented once the animal has the disease. Parvo victims are usually euthanized.

ID Microchips

ID Microchipping is for identifying lost pets. Since it is not possible to control your pet 100% of the time, a pet can get lost, and that is heartbreaking. Return of unchipped lost pets only happens, statistically, in about 22 % of cases, whereas return of chipped pets happens in 52% of cases. Microchips are placed just under the skin, usually between the shoulderblades. The process is not painful. Microchips contain a code that can be read only by a veterinary clinic or shelter, using an electronic reader that scans within an inch or two of the chip’s location on the pet. Chips cannot be used to locate the whereabouts of a lost pet or to track its activities; they merely identify the pet when someone brigs it to the vet or shelter after discovering it lost. The number on the chip is registered with a microchip company to which you will have, upon initial chipping, given your pet’s name and your contact information, so if your phone number or email changes, you must let them know.


Avoid poisoning: rat poison is all too common, and you pet should be protected from eating rodents that could have eaten rat poison. That would be any rodent in residential or farming areas (unless you live on a farm where you know rat poison is never used). The poison may not kill the cat or dog right away, but it compromises the immune system, causing loss of fur, scabby skin, torturous itching, burning, and extreme misery. The treatment is a prolonged total quarantine with specially medicated prescription shampoos and ointments on an ongoing basis for at least 6 weeks or until totally healed and fur grows back.

Avoid accidents: Keep your dog leashed except when at a community dog park. Your dog may not be aggressive, but you cannot predict when another dog will be. Coyotes can also be aggressive to dogs and can do a lot of damage. Any wounds from fighting can and will become infected if left untreated. Infected wounds often result in sepsis, which is deadly. Veterinary care is essential for wounds from fighting.

Cats should be kept indoors. They are prey for owls, eagles, coyotes, bobcats, and dogs. Cats that roam outside have, statistically, a lifespan of about 2 years, whereas cats living strictly indoors have a lifespan average of 15 to 20 years. (Barn cats on farms are “working cats”, keeping rodent populations down, but their lifespans are often quite short.)

Flea Treatment:

Fleas may seem unimportant but can actually kill a cat or small dog. When uncontrolled, fleas can proliferate to the point of causing extreme anemia, and loss of ability to control body temperature when the skin is mostly scabbed. And fleas bite people, too. Therefore, if your cat is exposed to the outdoors or to another pets that goes outdoors, occasional flea treatments are a good idea. You can call your local vet to ask what their recommended brand of flea treatment is, since some commercially available treatments can be harmful. Once you have purchased it, follow the directions precisely to avoid toxic reactions.

Flea collars are not recommended, as they give off a constant toxic chemical outgassing, and cats can get caught on things if they wear a non-stretch collar.

Ear Mites:

If your pet is shaking its head or pawing at its ears, check for ear mites. You will see a dark brown, unpleasant-smelling waxy substance in the ear canals. If mites are present, it’s important to use a good ear mite treatment or take the pet to a vet. Letting the problem persist can cause great discomfort and even deafness.

Protect from insects:

Leaving a pet outdoors if you live in an area with a season of bothersome black flies or mosquitoes can cause extreme discomfort and worse.

Spay and Neuter:

Mating behavior is often violent between rival males, and between males and unwilling females. And needless to say, kittens and puppies may be cute, but there are so many animals in the world who are stray or residing in shelters, causing thousands of unadopted animals to be euthanized every year, that it is inhumane to allow your pet to produce more. Also spayed/neutered pets live happier and longer lives, statistically.

Healthy Food:

Dogs need high quality meats. Therefore a diet of good quality dog food is essential. “People food” is not sufficient, due to having a lower protein content than dogs need.

Dogs also need to keep their teeth healthy by chewing on large bones, but avoid chicken bones and other sharp bones that can pierce the throat, stomach and intestines. Some commercial dog chews are good, but most are not digestible, so avoid the ones that can clog the digestive system.

Dental Care:

Although it may seem a bit bothersome, brushing your pet’s teeth daily prevents tooth decay and infection. An older pet that has had no dental care have decayed teeth and can develop serious infections. Dental surgery is very expensive, so it’s better to prevent it by taking care of the teeth from early life onward.

Potty Training:

Cats need one litterbox per cat. Otherwise, they may use other spots in your dwelling and may fight with the other cats in your household. Litterbox should be scooped daily. Cats are fastidious and prefer cleanliness.

Dogs should be walked at least twice a day.

Claw Trimming:

Keeping claws/nails trimmed is essential to avoid painful foot and leg deformities, to save your own skin and furniture, and to prevent harm to other animals. Dogs that regularly exercise outdoors on gravel or pavement may not need it, but otherwise most pets do.

Watch this video for dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IVOX8y8UZM

Watch this video for cats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut886IEvn9w


Al pets need adequate exercise. Without it they can become neurotic, bored, aggressive, and/or hyperactive. Walk and play vigorously with your dog regularly, and play with your cat energetically every day.

Other types of pets:

Rabbits, rats and guinea pigs: provide plenty of chewing materials so their teeth don’t overgrow. Rodent and rabbit teeth never stop growing and need to be worn down by chewing on tough substances. If not provided, teeth can grow through their lower lip.

Like other pets, rabbits’ toenails should be kept clipped.