PET TIP No-Nos - These can harm your pet:

Do NOT let your dog eat xylitol - it is in gum, in some peanut butter, in toothpaste and in other foods - all very appealing to dogs. It causes seizures and death in dogs. Keep all products that contain xylitol out of reach of your pets.

Avoid pet toys and treats from China - they are made cheaply and potentially (and probably) contain toxic ingredients.

Keep Bad Foods Out of Reach! It's so easy to leave things lying around that your pets can eat. Food drops on the floor and dogs vacuum it up. Keep the dog outside and sweep up before letting him pick it up for you. There could be alcohol in some foods, or the sugars. Chocolate, grapes and raisins can be fatal if a dog ingests it (especially bad are dark chocolates and baking chocolates - more potent in the bad ingredient - but avoid milk chocolate as well - they just need more of it to cause a problem). There are foods that are bad for any animal, and precautions should be taken to keep the best care of your pets as possible. Animals should not eat processed foods that humans eat. Give organic, fresh fruits and vegetables which are fine for your pet. Check the guidelines or ask your vet what may be ok. Dogs love grapes, raisins, and chocolate - but these can all kill.

No Onions or Garlic for Dogs! Onions are very bad for your dog or cat. Garlic is as well, but onion is worse. When they eat them, they can get anemic. Don't feed them any form of either - not in left-overs or in any other way. No flavoring of food with either. The sickness could start a few days after eating such - the pet could be weak, or seems out of breath, or may have bloody urine. The red blood cells burst while circulating through the body, due to the toxic ingredient thiosulphate which is in both onions and garlic. By feeding small amounts over time, poisoning could take place. One large meal with either could start the poisoning immediately. You may be able to reverse the symptoms by taking all onions and garlic from their available foods.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Kill. Never let your pets eat sweets that are dietary, having artificial sweeteners. These can kill - xyletol, which may be known by another name, is lethal for dogs. And while we're at it, why give sugared sweets to your pets? It's nothing that is good for them, or has nutritional value. It just rots their teeth and can make them picky eaters.

Don't feed leftovers to your dog - for the most part, there's nothing good for its system. There are spices, sugars, vegetables that are bad... There are certain foods your dog can have - raw carrots, raw green beans, raw asparagus and more. Once you cook them, you add salt, spices, onions, garlic and then it's potentially toxic.

More Eating Concerns. Dog and cat food recall - if you feed your pets soft food - check to see if you have been feeding them the recalled products - Google it. If so, don't feed any more to your pets, and call your vet if your precious pet shows any odd symptoms, or just call and let the vet know - there might be something particular to your pet to look for (especially in combination with other known conditions).

Don't use tea tree oil on your pets - it's harmful to dogs.

During the holiday season, refrain from giving chocolate to your dogs and pets. It can be quite toxic, if the dog has enough of it. In any case, it's not healthy, it's bad for teeth, and it encourages a love of sweets.

Beware of Car Heat - Never leave anyone - no child, baby, pet or person, in your car when it's warm or hot outside. The heat in a car can rise 40 degrees "within" an hour - so if it's already 80 degrees outside, it can get up to 120 pretty fast. It can take only minutes for the temperature to climb to deadly levels. It won't take long to cause serious, if not fatal, problems with anyone in the car. Even if you leave the windows down, it can still get hot in the car. Dogs don't even have many ways to sweat, as humans do - so they can succumb to the heat pretty fast. Report any instances you find of a child or pet in a closed car on a hot day - it could save a life. If you must, make sure to crack open at least two windows for air circulation, park in the shade, and make sure there is water for your pet - and be gone for ONLY a couple of minutes. (I know the intent may be good to be gone for a couple of minutes, but sometimes it ends up being longer - but at least the pet has a chance of being ok if there is moving air and water.) The same goes for children - NEVER leave anyone - person or pet - in a closed up car. Check the law in your state - you might be within the law to break out a locked pet or child.

Find a dog food that does not contain corn or cornmeal (corn gluten appears to be ok) - that is a major ingredient in most dry dog foods - but corn is not useful in a dog's diet, and not really digested - just eliminated as waste. Why spend money buying food that is not food to a dog? Why buy food that makes you have to scoop more poop? The other problem with corn is that it's likely GMO corn - in other words, doused with Roundup (glyphosate and other toxic ingredients).

Keep Your Pets Away From Chemicals & Fumes. If you have a pest or weed control person working in your home or yard - put your pets away while the process is going on, and for some time afterwards - ask your sprayer how long a pet should stay out of the area being treated - some are 20-30 minutes, others longer. If you cook with Teflon (and you should not), keep all pets out of the kitchen area so they don't get the fumes. Any time you work on the yard, fertilizing or using any chemicals - consult the directions to know how long your pets need to be restrained from the areas affected.

Keep your birds away from the kitchen - some odors can literally kill them. When cooking with Teflon, for instance, the fumes from the pan can be deadly to birds.

Holiday Pets as Gifts - not a good idea. Don't ever give a pet as a gift unless you know the recipient even wants it or can afford it. A child may want a dog or cat, but his parents may not want one (allergies, too much work, not enough room or time, can't afford to feed another stomach, etc.). Make sure you clear all avenues of concern and permission before ever considering giving a pet for a gift.

If you do get a dog, even for yourself - be aware that many, if not most, smaller pet stores sell puppies that have been brought up in puppy mills. These puppies are cruelly ignored and minimally cared for, cramped in small crates with others, no ground under their feet - just the grating of the crate. These pups may have inbred problems - and certainly can carry kennel cough or parvo or other diseases. Their immune systems are compromised and they have even been known to die after a few weeks once purchased. Be certain of where the animals were brought into the stores from before purchasing - yes they are cute, but likely not healthy - and you don't want to support a business that promotes such cruelty to animals! When you ask - be aware that employees may not have been told the truth about the origination of the animals that are being sold. Or they may blatantly lie - so keep aware of how the questions are answered. Better yet - just go to a Humane Society and adopt a pet that needs a home, or call a breed rescue group.

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