Holiday Pet Safety

Trojan with bow Crop

Gitli with bow

The Holidays are upon us and these events can be rather hectic for our pets.  We need to stay alert to possible dangers to them.  These threats can be things like consuming an excessive amount of rich and harmful foods, inappropriate or even toxic items which can be the seasonal decorations, ornamental lighting and plants.

While having fun with family and friends, don’t forget your companion animals and have  fun with and protect them during the holidays festivals.

“Watch this month’s yuletide episode of Pet Talk and find out what holiday trimmings are on the nice list and which ones are on the naughty. Your heightened awareness could help prevent everything from unintentional fire hazards to unwanted ingestion of plants that are safe for humans but poisonous to pets. Simply by following these helpful guidelines, your pet kid could avoid gastric upset and serious injury.”

Please watch the video of Dr. Sarah, you can advice you on how to make sure your pet’s holidays are safe as well as jolly.

Merry Christmas and have a Safe and Happy Holiday!


 The Holidays are upon us and these events can be rather hectic for our pets.  We need to stay alert to possible dangers to them.  These threats can be things like consuming an excessive amount of rich and harmful foods, inappropriate or even toxic items which can be the seasonal decorations, ornamental lighting and plants.


It is up to us to take the appropriate steps to protect them during the holidays.

  1. Keep your dogs busy with appropriate treats, toys and activities.
  2. Take steps to ensure dogs are maintaining their manners and that the guests are respecting your canine companions and are alerted to these dangers.
  3. Rich and inappropriate foods can create health problems. Avoid giving your canine friends chocolate, cooked bones, coffee, onions, alcohol, fatty foods, grapes, raisins, etc. Keep these foods out of reach.
  4. Be sure your guests know that your canine friends are part of the family and the festivities.
  5. Plan ahead and invite pet friendly people to avoid problems.
  6. Use baby gates or play pens to protect your dogs and still allow them to be a part of the activities.
  7. Some experts recommend including the young visitors (most children love animals) to occupy your dogs. My caution is that these children do need to have a responsible adult with them while with your dogs. Protecting your dogs from visitors regardless of age is important.
  8. I would never recommend bringing in a new pet into the household during the holidays; the festivities can be hectic and stressful for both the new comer and the household.
  9. Recommend pet gifts are pet products like toys, bedding, housing, dishes, brushes, collars etc.
  10. Plants that are poisonous to dogs are holly, poinsettia, lilies, mistletoe, etc. (Please do your research before bringing possible poisonous plants into the household. If they do make it in, keep these items above the reach of the dogs.
  11. Pine needles can create a problem with the digestive tract if eaten.
  12. Secure your Christmas trees and other decorations, these can be easily topple, knocked over, and climbed on.
  13. Protect your dogs from digesting the Christmas tree water, it will be stagnant and or contain chemicals that are bad for them.
  14. Keep others items like candles, liquid potpourri pots, menorahs, etc out of reach and secured. These scents could cause harmful breathing problems and if left unmonitored can cause fire and or burns.
  15.  Inappropriate items like tinsel, garlands, ribbons and food can cause either sickness, digestive obstruction, death, etc.
  16. Keep breakable items out of reach.
  17. Use pet gates and other containment items to prevent dogs from accessing electrical cords, heated bulbs, hooks and other various decorations.
  18. Nicotine is very dangerous to dogs, keep it out of reach.
  19. Keep the trash in containers that have tight lids, dogs eating trash can cause health risks.
  20. Secure foods in containers with tight lids and out of dogs reach to prevent accidental ingestion and or poisoning.
  21. Grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs, keep these out of reach.
  22. Ingesting sufficient amounts of chocolate is toxic to dogs. Their metabolism does not allow this to be digested effectively. Theobromine can remain in their bloodstream for up to 20 hours. Chocolate can cause seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding and even death. If digested vomiting needs to be induced within two hours of ingestion or a trip to the emergency room. A 40 lb dog can be affected after eating about 8.5 ounces of dark chocolate and it can cause intestinal distress. Dark chocolate and cacao bean shells are the most dangerous to dogs. Keep these away from the dogs. Carob treats which are similar to chocolate can be purchased through pet stores as chocolate treats, which I would recommend.

While having fun with family and friends, don’t forget your companion animals and have  fun with and protect them during the holidays festivals.

Happy Holidays!

Joyce is a nationally certified pet care consultant and trainer and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disaster. She is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” and is based out of Southern Illinois.

The Superstition of Black Cats

What is a black cat?  It is a feline with black fur and can either be a specific or a mixed breed.  A cat known for the sleek black fur is the Bombay and their high melanin pigment results in cats having yellow or golden eyes.

Are black cats bad luck?  Depending on specific cultures black cats are considered either good or bad luck. Japan, Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland symbolizes the black cat as good luck.  So if a strange black cat arrives at a home it signifies prosperity.  A fairy known at Cat Sith in Celtic mythology does take the form of a black cat and yet the people of the Scottish Highlands did not trust the Cat Sìth because it was believed that it could steal a person’s soul before it was claimed by the Gods by passing over a corpse before burial.  It is also believed that a woman owning a black cat will have many suitors.

The Western and Southern European cultures looks upon black cats as symbols of evil omens and familiars with witches.  We have all heard the story if a black cat crosses your path you now have misfortune, death, or bad luck.  In Germany when a black cat crosses a person’s path going from left to right it is a good luck while right to left, it is a bad omen.



Most casino players believe that black cat crossing their path as they go to gamble will bring them bad luck and they should not go into the casino to gamble.

Some cultures believe that the black cat is able to change from human to cat acting as a spy or courier for witches or demons.  When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth rock they also brought with them their devout faith in the Bible, which deepened the suspicion that the black cat was of the devil because they viewed the black cat as a companion or familiar to witches.  So anyone caught with a black cat was punished or killed because they were thought to be practicing sorcery and teamed up with the devil.

This superstition had led to the death of many black cats, even during the Middle Ages.  Unfortunately this superstition in Europe had unintended consequence because the killing of the cats allowed for the rat population to grow which then spread the Black Death known as bubonic plague and various other diseases carried by rodents.

Fishermen and their families viewed black cats positively and sailor’s considered them to be the ship’s cat because it brought them good luck.  Wives of fishermen kept black cats at home in hopes that it would influence the protection of their husbands while at sea.

The Egyptian Goddess Bastet favored the black cats, she was known as the cat goddess and Egyptian households believed that if they hosted black cats in their homes, they would gain the favor of  Bastet.  This view was held until the early 17th Century even by the monarch Charles 1 and upon the death of his treasured black cat, it is said that his good luck rain out and the next day he had been arrested and charged with high treason.

Even Pirates had their superstition in the 19th Century.  It was bad luck if the black cat walked towards a person and good luck if the cat walked away.  As well if a black cat walked on a ship and then walked off, the ship was doomed to sink.

Black cats and black animals in general are less likely to be adopted from shelters because of these superstitions.  Even some shelters suspend the adoptions of black animals during Halloween to protect them from being tortured, killed, and from being used as “living decorations” and then abandoned afterwards.

To help ward off the superstitions of the black cat August 17 has become Black Cat Appreciation Day.

Is a black cat good or bad luck?  Is it just cat?  It all depends on ones cultural believes, myself a black cat is a black cat.  Have a safe and happy Halloween and keep all your pets in and secured during the festivals.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.

Ensure a Happy and Save Halloween for your pet(s).

Many humans find All Hallow’s Eve fun but for our pet(s) Halloween can become quite unnerving, stressful, and even dangerous. Take some precautions and ensure a HAPPY AND SAVE HALLOWEEN for you and your pet(s).

The increase in foot traffic, loud noises, and additional knocks or door bell ringing can rattle many pet’s nerves. The spooky altered appearance of friends, family members and strangers can cause pet(s) to act unpredictable. Avoid mishaps or incidences by removing pet(s) from the loud noises and festivities and keep them in a secured room. Check on your pet(s) regularly and comfort them when they seek it. DO NOT force attention on your pet(s); allow him or her to approach willingly and on their own terms during these festivities.

Your pet(s) might not enjoy dressing up for Halloween….DO NOT force them to wear a costume if they appear uncomfortable, sheepish, or resistant. For those pet(s) who enjoy costumes, be very wary of costumes you purchase for your pet(s). Costumes containing rubber bands can harm your pet(s) by getting entangled in objects, pulling out hair or digging into the skin. Some costumes can have the potential for being a fire hazard or contain toxic materials. Do not allow pet(s) to chew on and ingest parts of their costume because it can be potentially harmful or contain toxic substances.

Keep all decorations out of reach of your pet(s) because they can be toxic to them including:

  • Jack-o-lanterns
  • Candy wrappers
  • Candles
  • Chocolate

Halloween can be made special for your pet(s) by making special homemade pet(s) treats like dog biscuits and cat treats.  Please read “Thirteen Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food”. These also can be handed out to friends and family who have pet(s).

Halloween can be terrifying and even life-threatening for pet(s), especially black cats. Superstitions and myths abound targeting black animals as the bearers of misfortune and evil. Some black animals have been horribly tortured and maimed, severely abused, and even killed during Halloween!

To prevent such horrendous acts from happening to your pet(s) it is highly recommended that all pet(s)s be brought in starting the night prior to Halloween and during All’s Hallow’s Eve. To be even more cautious it is advised that pet(s)s be brought in two weeks prior to Halloween.

It is unfortunate that those cruel, misguided souls have made this holiday a concern for caring, devoted pet(s) owners but for the safety and peace of mind of all involved these precautions should be implemented.

Pet(s) Safety Tips for Halloween:

  • Bring your pet(s) inside, using dog(s) to keep pranksters away from your home puts them endanger especially since there is no way for the animal to escape anyone who wants to harm, tease or taunt them.
  • Prevent anxiety and stress by placing your pet(s) in a quiet, secured, indoor room away from the loud, boisterous festivities. Secure them away from trick or treaters so they don’t run to or out of the door when opened. Secure them in a different room, behind a baby gate and be sure that you have taught your dog the stay command.
  • Comfort your pet(s) whenever your pet(s) seeks it on your pet(s)s terms but DO NOT force it.
  • Keep decorations, jack-o-lanterns, candy wrappers, and candles out of reach of your pet(s).
  • Chocolate is not good for dogs and can kill them.
  • Keep candy, alcohol, and other potentially toxic foods out of reach of your pet(s).
  • Click on Provide or Make healthy treats for pet(s) to view “Thirteen Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food” if there are plans to making your pet(s) treats.
  • Avoid dressing up your pet(s) if they appear uncomfortable, stressed, or sheepish.
  • If you do purchase a costume and your pet(s) is receptive to the idea, avoid customs with rubber bands, and ingestible items. These may cause potential health risks to your pet(s) and always supervise your pet(s) to avoid possible mishaps.
  • Keep Electrical cords out of reach of pet(s) by covering them or tacking them down.
  • Keep your pet(s) inside two-week prior to and throughout Halloween night, especially black animals including cats.
  • Microchip your pet(s) and keep the information current and Identification tags should be current and legible on each pet(s).
  • Maintain regular and feeding routines to avoid undue stress, yet avoid allowing them outside without supervision.
  • Secure your pet(s) so that they not able to escape outside through an open door or window.
  • Some dogs scare easily, desensitize them to hats, big wigs and masks or be sure that they are secured and away from the trick or treaters.
  • Keep your pet’s identification tags and vaccinations up to date.
  • Keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number handy, which is (888) 426-4435.

These simple precautions will help to ensure that you and your pet(s) will avoid the potential dangers and enjoy this holiday together. Happy Halloween!

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.