March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and this week is National Poison Prevention Week. With businesses opening back up and people no longer staying home 24/7 with their pets, we want to be sure that when our pets are home alone they stay safe. Most of us know that our pets cannot eat chocolate or grapes, but do you know what else in your home could be toxic to your pets? Here are 5 tips to pet proof your home along with a bonus list of poisonous household items that should be kept away from your pets.

black cat sitting on counter staring at refrigerator


Tip #1:

Know what foods are toxic. We’ve all snuck our pets a little snack while cooking or eating, but many of those snacks could be toxic. Chocolate and alcohol are the prime examples, but lesser known items like macadamia nuts, grapes, garlic, onions, raisins, yeast-based dough, table salt, or sugar-free foods that often contain xylitol can be extremely dangerous to pets. For a more complete list go to the Pet Poison Helpline’s website.

Tip #2:

Keep out the toxins. The best way to prevent pet poisoning is to avoid keeping anything that could cause problems. Check your home for potential hazards and easily accessible toxins and then make a plan to secure, or better yet, remove them. Did you know that the fragrance diffuser in your living room could cause neurological issues in your pets? If you place rodent bait or rodent traps in areas your pet cannot access, keep in mind the rats/mice may move them so it’s best not to use them at all. Consider contacting a local pest control company to ask about pet safe alternatives.

For a room by room list of potential toxins, check out HealthcareInsider’s blog here.

Tip #3: 

Use locking cabinets and garbage bins to keep chemicals out of reach. The Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota (AERC) suggests that if you need to keep certain items like household cleaners or medications, be sure they are completely secured away from pet access. Your cat may be able to open bathroom and kitchen cabinets to search for things to get into or snack on unless you prevent that. Also consider putting your purse/briefcase that may contain items like sugarless gum or medications in a secure location rather than on a counter.

Tip #4:

Avoid harmful plants. Some of the most beautiful or common plants are also the most toxic to our pets. While a wide variety of plants can be toxic, especially to our cats, the most common according to the Pet Poison Helpline are the Azalea, Oleander, Lily, Daffodil, Tulip, or Hyacinth. For a more complete list, check the ASPCA’s guide.

Tip #5:

Recognize the signs of poisoning. Signs or symptoms of poisoning can vary, but the most common are:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing/vomiting blood
  • Discoloration of the gums
  • Stool/urine abnormalities
  • Lack of appetite or excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in behavior

You should know your pet’s “normal” behavior and eating/drinking/excretion habits to be able to recognize any changes.

Bonus tip:

Add the phone numbers for your veterinarian, emergency hospital, and pet poison helpline to your contacts list. If there is an emergency you do not want to waste time searching for phone numbers online.


What are the most toxic household items?

According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animas (ASPCA)’s Animal Poison Control Center, the following are the most common causes of pet poisoning in America:

  • Over the counter medications – Pets may ingest everything from vitamins and herbal supplements to cold and pain medications, resulting in 1 in every 5 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
  • Human prescription medications – We often leave our daily pills for heart problems, antidepressants and anxiety, ADHD, or even acid reflux disease in an easy to access location, but that means they could also be easy to access for our pets.
  • Human food – The third most common cause of pet poisoning is access to human food that is toxic to pets including xylitol sweetener, grapes, onions, raisins, and of course, chocolate. Chocolate alone accounts for the fourth most common call to the APCC.
  • Veterinary products – Many of the heart-worm or flea/tick medications we give to our pets are flavored like beef or tuna to make them easier to administer, but that also means that they could smell pretty tasty. Child-proof caps won’t stop a dog from chewing through the container to have a few extra snacks.
  • Household items – Most of us know to keep paint, glue, and cleaning products away from our pets, but the pandemic has increased the number of calls about poisonings from bleach, alcohol, and other products used to combat the virus. Be sure that all of your household chemicals are locked away from your pets.
  • Rodenticides and Insecticides – Most rat poisons are made to attract rats, but our pets (and other outdoor animals) may find them tasty too. Bug sprays and ant bait can also be tempting to pets or the fumes/spray can spread and harm your pets.
  • Plants – Many indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous to our pets. That beautiful lily may look great on your windowsill, but can cause kidney failure in your cats and the sago palm in your living room can result in severe liver failure.

For a complete list of potential household toxins check the Pet Poison Control or ASPCA Animal Poison Control websites.


What to do if you think your pet is poisoned?

If you believe that your pet ate something he or she shouldn’t have, the faster you react the better the potential outcome.

  • Step 1: Remove your pet from the area so that the poison is out of reach.
  • Step 2: Call you veterinarian or a 24/7 poison helpline. Even if your pet is breathing and acting normally they still may have been exposed to a toxin.
  • Step 3: Wait to treat your pet until speaking with a professional. They may indicate home monitoring or an immediate veterinary visit. Do not induce vomiting or attempt any home remedies unless directed to do so.

Call Animal Poison Control Center (888)-462-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at (855)-764-7661

Photo via Rawpixel


How to Give Your Dog the Ultimate Life of Luxury


Who doesn’t love a good massage, a top-notch meal, and a pillowy bed to fall into at the end of the day? Just like us humans, dogs always welcome a little luxury. Pampered pups enjoy long, happy lives thanks to the additional attention that is given to their physical and mental health. If you love spoiling your furry friend and you have the budget for it, why not go all out?


Check out the following tips for fun ways to spoil your dog, courtesy of Whiskers to Tails Petsitting.


Find a Luxurious Bed

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs spend about 50 percent of their day sleeping and another 30 percent awake but still lounging around. A good dog bed will keep your dog warm, give them space to stretch out, and support their joints—which is especially important as they get older.


Spoil your dog with a luxurious bed to help them relax in peace and get sound sleep during the night. Keep the size of your dog in mind as you search for a dog bed. A large dog might benefit from an orthopedic or memory foam bed to cushion their weight, while a small dog might need a self-warming bed to provide additional warmth in the winter months. In the summer, you may even want to get a second bed to keep outside for those summery afternoon naps.


Another option to consider (that can be used indoors or out!) is an elevated bed. This style has gained popularity over the last few years because they’re great for regulating your dog’s body temperature. When it’s chilly, they keep your pooch off the cold floor (often the case with tile flooring in the winter) or ground outside. When it’s hot, they allow cool air to flow underneath, keeping your pet from overheating. Plus, large dogs—especially those with joint issues—may find them easier to get in and out of, since they don’t have to lower themselves down as far when getting on and don’t have to raise themselves all the way up when getting off.


Cook for Your Dog

Dogs, just like humans, need all kinds of essential vitamins and minerals to function at their best. This is why it’s important to buy high-quality dog food. DVM 360 recommends learning how to read dog food labels so you can look for key nutritional sources that your pet needs every day.


If you have the time, why not supplement your dog’s dry food diet with some home-cooked meals? This is an excellent opportunity to spoil your dog a little more, adding some mouth-watering variety and additional nutrition to their regular diet. AllRecipes has several great recipes for healthy homemade dog food to help you start cooking five-star meals for your furry friend, or you can order up healthy meal deliveries for your pampered pooch!


Splurge on a Spa Day

If you really want to give your dog a taste of the high life, treat them to a spa day. One spa treatment that your dog is sure to love is a massage—who wouldn’t? Dog massages relieve anxiety, ease pain, improve circulation, and can help dogs heal from an injury or surgery. Your dog will also benefit from a professional grooming at the spa. Bathing will help your dog maintain a healthy coat, trimming around the face and ears will prevent infections, and nail clipping will promote optimal foot health. Plus, the groomer will check for bumps, wounds, infections, or skin conditions that may need treatment.


Buy Some Interactive Toys

We all love buying things for our dogs. Go the extra mile and get your dog some interactive toys to prevent boredom and enrich their mental health. Puzzle toys will encourage your dog to problem-solve, which makes them much more engaging than your typical squeaking animal. Consider getting a few and swapping them out every once in a while to keep your dog guessing.

Another idea is to keep some indoor games in your back pocket for rainy days. Both you and Fido will enjoy a little romp together, blowing off steam and making memories! And for times when you’re busy, you can stream shows just for your four-legged family member.


Doggy television can be a real plus for busy times, but keep in mind you might experience latency if your whole household depends on WiFi. Thankfully, you can get 5G wireless these days, so the whole family can surf at the same time, whether it’s Fido’s entertainment, the kids’ school lessons or your work. You might even decide to hook your pooch up with some more tech tools, like a smartfeeder or ball game.


Go for an Outing

For most dogs, there’s nothing more exciting than going on an adventure with their favorite human. Take your pup on outings to make Fido feel like a star, and don’t be afraid to get creative—your pet will love mixing it up! Try some of these ideas:


  • Take a “sniff walk” where your dog’s nose leads the way. This can be especially exciting for tracking dogs like bloodhounds, German shepherds, and beagles.
  • Find a hiking trail at a local park that you can explore together. Just make sure it won’t be too tough for your pet to trek.
  • Take a car ride to your favorite dog-friendly pet store and let your furry friend pick out a new toy.
  • If you’re too busy to go exploring with your pet, ask your favorite dog walker to take them for a walk.

If you believe that it’s impossible to spoil a dog too much, you’re not alone. Pet owners are always looking for opportunities to pamper their beloved furry friends. It feels good to treat our dogs to tasty snacks, soft bedding, and fun outings. After all, they deserve it for showering us with all that love!


For more information, tips and ideas to keep you and your furry friends healthy and happy, connect with Whiskers to Tails Petsitting!