Tag Archives: toxicity

Holiday Safety for Pets !

Holiday dog knocked over tree

Hanukkah may be over, but we still have Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve left in 2015! And no matter what you celebrate, the love we have for our pets is a universally celebrated tradition.

Keeping your pets safe over the holidays is easy !

Just being careful with unsafe items and leaving them out of the reach of  curious paws can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to make sure this holiday season is a happy AND safe one for your pets.

Christmas Hanukkah cats

1) Candles!

Menorah lights, Kinara candles, and Christmas votives are beautiful traditions, but keep them away from the tails and paws of cats and dogs.

Do not put lit candles in the way of roaming curious pets, and make sure to blow out any candles before leaving a room or the house.

The fringe-like fur of a tail can easily burn when swept alongside a lit candle, and a rambunctious dog can easily knock into a candle that is sitting on a low coffee table, causing a tablecloth or rug to catch on fire.

 Christmas poinsettia

2) Holiday Plants

Poinsettias are toxic for pets. So are mistletoe, holly, holly berries, rosemary, and lilies. Lilies can also cause irreversible kidney failure in cats (lily nephrotoxicity).

Almost all holiday-themed plants should be kept far far away from your pets’ mouths.

The degree of toxicity depends on the weight of your pet and the amount of the plant your pet has eaten. If you suspect your pet has ingested an unsafe amount of a holiday plant, take your pet to your veterinarian right away.

Signs of toxic poisoning include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.


Christmas cat in tree butt

3) The Tree

The tree ! Whether it’s real or fake, the tree is anything but safe for your pets. Especially for kitties. Kitties looooove to make trouble with the tree.

Keep lights high! Don’t let dogs and cats chew on low-hanging lights and give themselves an electric shock.

Use safe decorations – go for plastic instead of glass, in case the ornaments get knocked off the tree or end up between jaws – Plastic ornaments won’t shatter as easily.

Keep ornaments with string and whispy angel hair out of the reach of your pets as well, to prevent any chance of dangerous string ingestion. Read more about linear foreign body dangers in our previous blog post here.

If your kitties love to climb the tree, make sure to anchor your tree to the wall, or give it a heavy, sturdy base, to prevent the tree from tipping over and hurting your pets or possibly causing damage to your home.

If your tree is REAL – keep cats and dogs away from tree water!

The tree water can contain insecticide, pine resin, and chemicals, everything your cat or dog should not ingest. The pine needles themselves are very dangerous for cats and dogs to digest – they can cause perforations or obstructions in the G.I. tract if ingested, and are toxic.

A couple of tips for keeping pets away from the tree:

  • Put aluminum foil around the base of your tree. The noise will alert you when pets are too close, and the noise itself may scare pets away.
  • Use a tree skirt to cover up tree water and the bottom portion of your tree.
  • Use strong citrus scents around the tree. Cats and dogs may not like these smells and may leave the tree alone because of them.

Christmas Cat Dog eating

4) Holiday Foods

Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to both dogs AND cats.

Grapes and raisins are toxic for cats, dogs, and ferrets as well. Ingestion of grapes and/or raisins can cause acute (immediate) kidney failure in pets.

Excessively fatty foods (such as fat scraps from meats), foods with onions, foods with garlic, and foods with bones should not be given to your pets.

Foods with lots of fats and oils can upset your pets’ digestive systems. Onions and garlic, fresh and in powder form, can cause anemia in cats as well as dogs. Onion and garlic poisoning can have a delayed onset, so if you suspect your pet has ingested them, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Be mindful over the holidays of what leftovers and what treats you give to your pets. We all want our beloved animals to join in on the festivities and to make them feel like they are part of the fun, but let’s do so in a way that will not make them sick or compromise their health.

Christmas dog beer

5) Alcohol and Caffeine

Toxic for your pets! Keep away!

Christmas dogs gum

6) Sugarless Gum and Candy containing Xylitol

Toxic for your pets! Keep away! Most sugarless gum and candy include xylitol as an ingredient.


If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic or poisonous, don’t wait ! Contact a a qualified pet poison hotline immediately, such as the ASPCA animal poison center at 1-888-426-4435.

Or take your pet to a 24-hour hospital ! ASEC (Animal Specialty & Emergency Center) on Sepulveda Blvd and VCA TLC on Santa Monica Blvd are two 24-hour animal hospitals.

Know the symptoms of toxic poisoning: vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.

Holiday Cat staring at Christmas lights

Happy Holidays from the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital! We hope that no matter what tradition you hold dear, that you celebrate it with loved ones, good fun, good cheer, and lots of warm snuggles.


Photo credits :

Mountain Dog looking guilty in front of the tree photo:


Hanukkah kitty:


Poinsettia photo:

Scott Bauer/Wikimedia Commons

Cat and Dog milk n’ cookies:


Dog with a beer:


Pups with bubblegum:


Kitty in tree photo:


Boo! Halloween Safety is SPOOKtacular

HotDog 1
Lisa, Gary, and Renée look sizzling in their funtime sausage suits.

Halloween is fun! For us people! Let’s make it fun and safe for our pets too.

Below are some great tips by the BHSAH and the AVMA for Halloween dog and cat safety.


Come in kitty, come in! Just for a couple of days.
Come inside kitty, come inside! Just for a few days.

BLACK CAT (AND ALL PET) SAFETY:  Keep your pets, especially your cats and black cats, inside on the days preceding Halloween, on Halloween Day, and for a few days after Halloween. Don’t leave them outside unattended. According to the AVMA,  “Halloween pranks committed against pets can be vicious, and black cats are particularly at risk.” Leaving your pets inside during these days greatly reduces the chances any ne’re-do-wells will have access to your family pet.


No kitty no! Chocolate is toxic for cats too.
No kitty no! Chocolate is toxic for cats too.


HALLOWEEN CANDY: A delicious treat, but just for humans!! Especially anything chocolate and candy with raisins, both of which are toxic for dogs. Candy wrappers, lollipop sticks, and any other candy detritus are also harmful. Keep them away from your animals! See our previous post about chocolate toxicity and a guideline for chocolate toxicity symptoms at www.bhsah.com to recognize if your dog has eaten chocolate and could need medical attention. Chocolate is toxic for cats as well.

When you and/or your kids are done trick-or-treating, stash your stash somewhere your dog and cat cannot possibly reach. One of the worst feelings a pet owner can have is to come home to find a sick pet on the floor, surrounded by dozens of torn candy wrappers and an empty Halloween candy sack.


May the force be with you. And watch out for that lit pumpkin.
May the force be with you. And watch out for that lit pumpkin.


JACK O’ LANTERNS: Jack O’ Lanterns are super fun and  a great Halloween craft! But keep them out of the reach of your kitty’s swinging tail or curious paws so he doesn’t burn himself! Please. Thank you. Please don’t let your excited pug knock over your lit pumpkin and set your house on fire. Put your jack o’ lantern in a place the furries can’t reach. OR, alternatively, light your pumpkin with an LED candle – they are a brighter and safer alternative to candles.



Halloween Safety old costumesSTRANGERS IN SCARY CLOTHES: Does this look scary to you? Do you think it might spook your dog? We know a couple of dogs these vintage haunters might fright. If your dog is skittish, or has anxiety about strangers, keep him in a separate room while trick-or-treaters come to the door and ring the doorbell. It will help to reduce anxiety in your pet, and may prevent an anxious dog from biting a child or unsuspecting grown-up dressed in a bloody Burt Reynolds circa “Boogie Nights” costume.

Keeping your dog or cat in a separate room during trick-or-treat time will also prevent your beloved pet from running out of the house when you open the door to greet people.

And just in case Fido or Socks does escape, make sure your pets have been outfitted with a microchip and a collar with a tag before Halloween! Microchips and proper identification are a pet owner’s best friend.


Hotdawg, what a delicious looking family!
Hotdawg, what a delicious looking family!

DOGGIE AND KITTY COSTUMES:  We know, we know. It can be ridiculously cute to dress pets up in costumes. Especially as tacos/hotdogs. Or Star Wars characters. At the BHSAH, we are total pet costume lovers. But we need to remember that pet costumes are super fun – but they are primarily for us. Not all animals think they are that great. In fact, some animals hate them. Be sure that you don’t dress your beautiful pet in anything that interferes with their ability to breathe, pant, see, hear, move, or bark. And if your pet is demonstrating a noticeable opposition to being dressed up, just leave poor kitty or puppy alone! Forcing your pet to wear something they noticeably have an opposition to will increase their anxiety and distress, and nobody wants that on a fun holiday like All Hallow’s Eve. Pick a comfortable, soft costume like the lovely hotdog costumes that puppy Gary and elegant kitty Lisa are modeling here!

This pup is ready for his Halloween adventure.

And most importantly, have fun! Be safe! Take a flashlight! Trick or Treat!


(Above, farm dog Vinny enjoying some pumpkins from Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkin & Corn Maze

black cat photo by Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons

kitty candy photo from projectdenneler.com

Yoda-Pug from deltaattack.com

Vintage Halloween costumes photo from digitaldeconstruction.com

HotDog family photos by BHSAH client Jason McDonald. )


It’s Valentine’s Day! Spread the Love, Not the Chocolate

dog valentines

Friday, February 14th is ~~Valentine’s Day~~ and whether you’re sharing this special day with your human or animal life-partners, sweet treats are usually shared in abundance.

Nothing can ruin the charming mood of this day, however, like an emergency trip to the Animal Hospital! So be aware of the chocolate toxicity danger for dogs and cats (see below), and keep all chocolate treats and chocolate cooking supplies away from your 4-legged companions.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs because they cannot process the methylxanthines in chocolate – mainly caffeine and theobromine, a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant – the way humans do. Generally, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains.


Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • increased body temperature
  • seizures
  • rapid breathing
  • increased heart rate
  • advanced signs – (cardiac arrest, muscle failure, coma)


As with all poisoning, if you believe your dog has eaten chocolate, the best course of action is immediate action! not the wait-and-see approach. Contact your vet right away, or go to your nearest emergency veterinary facility.


You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. Go here for more info and advice on what to do if you believe your pet has consumed toxic / poisonous substances.


For use as a general tool, and not in the place of a doctor’s diagnosis, you can look at this chocolate toxicity chart from petMD.com to see how severe a reaction your pet may have after consuming chocolate, depending on his weight and the type of chocolate consumed. Cocoa powder, bakers’ chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate are by far the biggest offenders.


Not sure how much chocolate your dog ate? Here are some handy tips from askvetaquestion.com:

  • A milk chocolate Hershey’s Bar contains 1.5 oz (43g) of chocolate.
  • A regular Toblerone Bar contains 3.5 oz (100g) of chocolate.
  • A giant Toblerone Bar contains 14 oz (397g) of chocolate.
  • A single Hershey’s Kiss contains 0.2 oz (5.7g) of chocolate.



The same 2 compounds, caffeine and theobromine, are also toxic to CATS, and therefore cats and kittens should be kept away from chocolate at all times.

Theobromine poisoning in cats can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting chocolate, so keep an eye on your feline and take immediate action if you know your kitty has ingested chocolate.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats includes:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • hyperactivity
  • restlessness
  • abdominal tenderness
  • frequent urination / urinary incontinence
  • advanced signs (cardiac arrest, coma)


If your cat is not treated, nervous system damage, coma, or death can occur.

With these risk factors in mind, keep those chocolate bon bons out of the way of your pet’s mouth, and opt for some organic rolled oats and liver treats to spoil him with this Valentine’s Day.


dog-etsy-valentines-day large

(top photo by pawshaccessories.com / bottom photo from Sweethoots)