14 Howliday Tips for Pet Owners


14 Howliday Tips for Pet Owners

The holiday rush is officially upon us. There are menus to plan, presents to buy and trees to decorate. It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, but before you do, take some time to ensure that your favorite party animals are safe. The holiday season is a time to relax, indulge and have fun with friends and family. Pets often love Christmas and New Year’s Eve too, as they get lots of attention and spend more time with their loved ones. However, from the bar cart to the guest room, the most wonderful time of year ushers in potential pet dangers along with all that good cheer. Here, pet health experts share their essential holiday tips:

Keep an Eye on the Bar

If you’re hosting this year’s holiday party, be mindful of stray beverages.

“Dogs, cats and ferrets may try to drink these, particularly if the beverage was made with milk or cream,” says Dr. Charlotte Means, director of toxicology at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. Alcohol, she adds, can be toxic to pets.

And don’t forget that rum-soaked cake. Although a small slice wouldn’t be enough to cause any symptoms in a human, you dog isn’t exactly counting calories. Scarfing down a large amount could be dangerous.

Be Careful in the Kitchen

We all know not to leave a box of chocolates next to the dog bed. But plenty of other holiday foods are potentially dangerous to pets, including the innocent-seeming garlic and onions that are about to go in your signature stuffing.

Means’ holiday hazards list also includes fatty foods, foods that are high in sugar and macadamia nuts, which are uniquely toxic to dogs and can cause everything from muscle tremors to depression.

Educate Your Guests

The most popular guest at any holiday party? The dog, of course. Unfortunately, your pup may not enjoy being a celebrity. To avoid overwhelming him, ask guests to play it cool and observe some basic A-lister rules.

“When guests arrive, ask them to ignore your dog until he first approaches them,” says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary of the American Kennel Club. “Assure them that your dog may be a bit shy, so it’s best to give him time to warm up—and if he doesn’t, not to take it personally.”

Additionally, be sure to supervise any interactions between pets and children, she advises. No matter how gentle your pet usually is, little hands can be scary and unpredictable to a dog.

Provide a Time-Out Room

When you want to leave a holiday party early, you can simply fake an emergency text. But your dog isn’t so lucky to have a “roommate with a flat tire.” Because of this, make sure pups have a place to go if they start to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

“Offer your dog the chance to escape the chaos and excitement of the party for a bit,” says DiNardo. “Place him in his crate or a room that isn’t being used with some toys, and ask guests to leave them alone for an hour or so.”

Place Ornaments out of Reach

Decorations pose a number of hazards to pets. Antique ornaments may contain lead, glass ornaments can lacerate the stomach if ingested and tinsel can cause an obstruction in the intestines—unfortunately, all of these potential hazards resemble cat toys.

“It’s important to keep these materials out of reach of any animals,” says Means.

Sweep up Those Tree Needles

It’s difficult to ask your pets to ignore the large tree that’s suddenly in the living room. But discourage nibbling on Christmas tree branches and sweep up needles regularly, as ingesting them can be harmful.

“Tree needles can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and drooling,” says Charlotte Flint, a senior consulting veterinarian with the Pet Poison Helpline, a 24-hour animal poison control service. “With large ingestions, there could be potential for obstruction of the GI tract and, rarely, perforation.”

Even if you have a fake tree, be vigilant—plastic needles can also cause stomach irritation and obstruction if enough are ingested, says Flint.

The Tree Isn’t a Water Bowl

If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure that the water isn’t accessible to your pets. Tree water—although seemingly irresistible to cats and dogs—may contain fertilizers, pesticides and bacteria, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, says Flint.

Secure Your Wires

Wires are fun to chew on, so it’s your job to make sure the opportunity never presents itself. After you get the holiday lights just right, spend some time making sure your décor is puppy-proof—chewing on wires and extension cords could cause electrocution, says Means. Tape indoor wires to the wall and outdoor wires to the side of the house where your dog can’t reach them.

Dough is a No-No

Technically, no one should eat raw cookie dough. But while plenty of humans take this risk, it is one holiday treat you should never share with your dog, no matter how sad the puppy eyes.

“If an animal ingests raw dough, the dough will continue to rise in the stomach and could lead to a gastric obstruction or intoxication,” says Means.

Beware of Holiday Plants

Christmas trees aren’t the only hazardous holiday greenery. Holly, mistletoe, Christmas cactus and amaryllis are all potentially poisonous, says Flint. Keep these popular plants out of paw’s reach or, better yet, skip them all together.

Although you’ve probably been warned about them, poinsettias barely make Flint’s list.

“It’s a myth that poinsettias are a highly toxic plant,” she says. “Poinsettias contain a milky white sap that can cause mild vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea when ingested by pets, but more serious toxicity is not expected.”

Mind the Medications

If guests are spending the night, so are their medications. Whether prescription or over the counter, pills pose a problem to nosy pets who like to investigate suitcases.

“Pills should be kept in a drawer to prevent exposure, and as an additional safeguard, keep the door to the guest’s room firmly closed where possible,” says Means.

Skip the Salt Dough Ornaments

Cookie and bread dough can be problematic, but salt dough is an especially toxic holiday hazard. A popular arts-and-craft project for children, salt dough ornaments are made from a mix of salt, flour, and water. This may sound bland to people, but dogs will happily snack on these homemade decorations.

“When dogs eat salt dough, the salt has the potential to cause very high sodium levels in the blood,” says Flint.

Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea followed by neurological problems including changes in behavior, poor coordination, shaking and seizures. Salt toxicity can be fatal, Flint says, so seeking immediate treatment is critical.

Pass on the Potpourri

With a strong smell and curious mix of textures, dried potpourri is plenty interesting to pets, and it can also be dangerous. Wood chips or pine cones can cause a stomach obstruction, says Means, and poisonous plants can sneak in the mix.  As for liquid potpourri and scented oils, these can cause oral and esophageal burns if a curious pet rubs up against the dispenser and then grooms.

Don’t Be Surprised by Wrapped Gifts

It’s a lovely idea to wait until Christmas morning to open all the gifts, but if you receive a wrapped present from a friend or neighbor, don’t put it under the tree and walk away. While you might not be able to smell those caramels through the box, your dog most certainly can.

“Every year we have cases where people receive a wrapped gift from a well-meaning friend, put it under the Christmas tree, and are dismayed to discover their dog smelled, chewed into and ate the gift, which was a big box of chocolates,” says Flint.

And don’t forget to protect your loved ones’ pets. If you bring an edible hostess gift, give friends with pets a warning.


Howl-O-Ween - 10 Safety Tips for Pets


Howl-O-Ween - 10 Safety Tips for Pets


10 Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween is right around the corner and the Holy City Tails team is looking forward to seeing all the ghosts and goblins in the Charleston area!

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families.  However, Halloween can also be harmful to your pets if they are not supervised properly.  Here are their 10 tips for keeping your pet safe this Halloween compliments of the ASPCA: 

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go in his birthday suit or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.


Holiday Pet-sitting Reservations


Holiday Pet-sitting Reservations

Dear Holy City Tails Clients,

We would like to remind you to schedule your holiday pet care as soon as you can.  Our time slots are filling up quickly.


In order to ensure you will receive the service plan you prefer, please contact us as soon as possible to reserve your dates.  You can book online at https://www.holycitytails.com/schedule/. You may also e-mail us at info@holycitytails or call us at  843-501-0080.


Here are a few important things to know about holiday pet care services:


We prefer to have all holiday requests in as early as possible - many of our personalized options (especially boarding and overnight stays) are filled months in advance.


We have a cancellation policy of 25% of your entire service fee for any services scheduled and then cancelled with less than a week's notice for holiday pet sitting dates. 

On certain days around major holidays we have a $10 per day holiday surcharge. This money goes directly to your sitter for taking time out from their family and friends to work on a holiday.  

To our mid-day dog walk clients: Please let us know if you do not need a midday visit on Thursday, November 22nd, Monday, December 24th, Tuesday, December 25th, Monday January 31, or Tuesday January 1st. Thank you in advance! 

Thanks so much for using Holy City Tails! We look forward to hearing from you about your pet sitting needs soon.


10 Summer Pet-Safety Tips


10 Summer Pet-Safety Tips

The rising temperatures signal the fun summer months of backyard barbecues, vacations and more time spent outside (with a cool drink in hand). But, the scorching days of summer can

Follow these quick tips to ensure Fido and Fluffy remain happy and healthy during the dog days of summer:

1. Never leave your pets in your vehicle. Hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion each year because they are left in parked vehicles (source: AVMA). Many pet owners don't realize that even if they leave the windows cracked (or the air conditioner running), temperatures can still rise quickly and put pets at risk of serious illness or death. 

2. Do not walk dogs or allow them to exercise or play hard during the very hot weather or the hottest party of the day. Exercising your dogs in the early morning or evening is recommended. Remember that hot pavement can injure your pet’s paws. Try this quick tip: Place the back of your hand on the pavement; if you can’t hold it for five seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog.

3. Don’t forget, your pets have delicate skin. Did you know skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and the second-most common form in cats? Even though fur provides some protection, you should apply sunscreen to your pet’s least hair-covered spots—dogs’ bellies and around cats’ ears and eyes. There are sunscreens made specifically for pets, as zinc oxide can be toxic for pets. If your pet does get a sunburn, applying pure aloe can help soothe irritation, but be sure to check with your veterinarian first to ensure the brand you have is safe for pets.

4. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. Signs of heat stress could include trouble breathing, excessive panting, increased heart rate, weakness or collapsing. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, contact your veterinarian immediately.  

5. Keep your pets cool indoors as well. While it’s important to not have pets outside in the heat of the day, hot weather means inside temperatures can be more difficult to regulate as well. While it may be tempting to increase the temperature in your home to save on energy costs while you are at work or away on vacation, understand high temperatures inside can be dangerous to pets also. A good rule of thumb is if it’s too warm for you, it’s also too warm for your pets.

6. During the summer, more time is spent outside—often without the use of a leash. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in pets being hit by automobiles. Keep your dogs on a leash or confined by a fence—even well-behaved dogs should be kept on leash. Many cats also get hit by vehicles. Be sure to keep cats indoors, on a cat harness and leash or in a specially-designed cat fence.

7. During warmer months, veterinarians see an increase in injured animals as a result of “High-Rise Syndrome,” which occurs when pets fall out of windows or doors. Make sure all windows are closed and have well-fitting screens.

8. Be mindful of water safety for your pets. Never leave your dog unsupervised near an uncovered pool, and have your dog wear a bright lifejacket when boating, at the lake or beach. If you do have a pool, ensure the dog knows how to get out of the pool using the stairs by practicing with him or her several times.

9. Don’t let cookouts and summer parties turn into bad experiences for your pets. Charcoal briquettes used for grills can get stuck in your dog’s stomach, requiring surgery. Also, don’t allow your guests to share scraps with your dog. Fatty leftovers can result in severe abdominal pain, or even death. Other foods, such as corn on the cob, also present a danger because they can become lodged in the dog’s intestines.

10. Be aware of hazards in your garden and garage. While azaleas are common shrubs, they can be toxic for dogs or cats if ingested. Certain types of lilies can also cause acute kidney failure in cats, and even the ingestion of as little as two to three leaves can be fatal. In your garage, be mindful that any pesticides and insecticides (or plan food that include these) are out of paw’s reach. Fireworks can also be tempting for curious dogs, and the chemicals inside the fireworks could get stuck in the stomach causing serious side effects.

BONUS TIP: Remember, while fireworks are common during summer celebrations, they can be very scary for your pets. During a fireworks display, keep your pets inside in a safe space, close all doors and windows and turn on the television or play calming music. Also make sure your pet is wearing a tag with your contact information, as well as the pet sitter’s contact information, should they become scared and bolt or escape.