Everyday Pet Tips


The simplest of everyday activities often present ongoing challenges to keeping pets healthy. To ensure your pet’s well-being, here are a few helpful suggestions. If you feel your pet has ingested any of the items listed below please contact our hospital at 925-837-0526 for immediate assistance.

Foods & Beverages

Food and drink that is standard fare for people is rife with danger for pets: meats, poultry, gravy, skin, bones, alcohol, chocolate and other sweet treats are potentially toxic to animals, putting them at risk for all kinds of gastric distress, including: enteritis, colitis, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction & puncture, anaphylaxis, and just plain poisoning. Secure garbage (inside and out) and limit holiday treats to those specifically made for animals.

If your pet does eat or drink something it shouldn’t, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING, as it can make things worse. Keep your pet comfortable and contact a veterinarian immediately. If it’s after hours, SRVHs outgoing message gives contact information for local emergency centers, as well as 925-837-0526.

If you believe your pet has consumed something poisonous, keep this information by your phone: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435, $60 fee per incident; ASPCA.org/apcc. Pet Poison Helpline: 800-213-6680, $35 fee (pay by credit card) per incident; PetPoisonHelpline.com.

Plastic Wrapping & String

Small plastic pieces and rubber balls are common causes of choking and intestinal blockage and must often be removed surgically. Ribbons, bows, foil paper, string, fabric, and styrofoam are just as dangerous for the same reasons.

Things That Look and Smell Pretty

Besides the obvious risks, like candles, glass ornaments, and electric cords, there are other hazards you may not even know about.

  • Did you know that snow globes often contain antifreeze? Less than a teaspoon can prove fatal.
  • Scented oils and potpourri can also be toxic to cats, resulting in chemical burns, difficulty breathing, and tremors if ingested.
  • Artificial or spray-on snow can also cause problems if inhaled or ingested.

Smoke Detectors & Batteries

Remember to Double Check Smoke Detectors & Batteries It will keep everyone safer.

Plants & Flowers

Lots of beautiful holiday plants and arrangements have ugly consequences if chewed or ingested by pets. Christmas rose, holly, mistletoe, lilies, philodendron, and dieffenbachia are just a few of the usual suspects.

For a complete list, see the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants: ASPCA.org Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants


With family and guests coming and going, the risk of losing your pet through an open door sky-rockets. Make sure your pet has current tags or, better still, a microchip (see SRVH’s special offer in the sidebar). The upset in their routine can also agitate them, leaving them more likely to bark or bite, and more vulnerable to stress-induced illnesses.

Make sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date and reduce their stress with regular exercise. Make sure they have a safe, quiet room with plenty of water during get-togethers. If your pets are allowed to mingle with guests, make sure everyone knows not to slip them a little something from their plate.

Extreme Heat

In the summer, keep your pets indoors as much as possible. Outside, make sure they plenty of shade and access to lots of cool water. Exercise pets early or late in the day, well away from the heat’s peak. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even for a short amount of time. Temperatures sore quickly inside a vehicle, endangering your pet’s well-being. It is also against the law.

Extreme Cold

Even pets need protection from the cold, especially those bred for warmer climates. Pets should always have a warm, dry place to escape the elements, preferably indoors or in a heated place in the garage.

Dogs’ feet are very sensitive to cold surfaces and need shielding from ice, which can collect between their toes. Cats who spend time outdoors might be drawn to the warmth of an engine, so make sure to tap on your car’s hood before starting it up.