7 Toxic Household Plants to Avoid if You Have Pets

Many popular houseplants, especially those known for being easy to care for, are also extremely toxic to our small furry housemates, particularly if our pets love to snack on plants.

Here is a list of a few of the most popular houseplants for green-thumbed pet owners and the symptoms if they are eaten:

Tulips: A favorite around springtime and Mother’s Day, tulips are also a highly toxic plant, especially the bulb. While your pet wouldn’t normally chow down on a tulip bulb since it is below the surface, pets who like to dig may be tempted. Cats and dogs may also have toxic reactions to eating the stem, flower and leaves depending on how much they ingest and how big your pet is. Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and drooling are all symptoms of eating any part of this cheerful plant.

Lilies: Exactly how lilies are toxic to only cats and not dogs is still not well understood, so veterinarians warn that the entire plant is off limits to cat owners. Even the pollen of this sweet-smelling plant can cause symptoms of kidney damage in cats, so no lily in the home is considered safe. Dogs do not react to lilies, so if you are cat-free go ahead and stock up.

Aloe: Aloe vera has been showing up in many houses, both because it is a hardy houseplant and because it is featured in many homeopathic recipes. The problem is that aloe can be toxic due to a yellow, waxy layer of the aloe leaf which is easy to mistake for the edible (and beneficial) inner layer. This yellow substance is a natural stomach irritant, so it can cause vomiting and diarrhea and as well as death if enough is eaten and no treatment is given. If you come across a recipe that calls to give your cat or dog aloe (either applied to the skin or to eat) just skip over it and seek help from your vet.

English ivy: Another easy to care for plant, English ivy is loved for its hardy nature and gracefully trailing dark leaves. It is also toxic to both cats and dogs. The leaves and stems are the most commonly eaten part of this dangerous plant. As many home owners love to put this plant high up on shelves or ledges, your pet may not find them accessible to eat if they are out of reach. Use caution when keeping this pretty climber around your house. The symptoms of pets poisoned by this plant are vomiting, stomach pain, drooling and diarrhea.

Philodendron: This easy to care for house favorite has heart shaped leaves and a unique mechanism to make sure animals do not eat them. The leaves have calcium-based crystals which are released from the plant when they are chewed and can penetrate the soft tissue of the mouth and intestinal tract. Not quite as lethal as other plants on this list, philodendron can still cause vomiting, drooling, pain in the mouth as well as lack of appetite.

Jade: While this peaceful succulent is known for how easy it is to grow from cuttings, the leaves are also extremely toxic when eaten by either cats or dogs. As this plant is mostly leaves, choose to keep this Feng shui helper high on a shelf that your other pets cannot reach. Ingestion of this plant can cause vomiting, depression and lack of coordination.

Pothos: Also known as Devil’s Ivy, this is another plant known for trailing leaves and a hardy disposition. Unfortunately, it is also toxic to cats and dogs, especially if they are older and already in ill health. Pothos makes an excellent hanging plant, so it is possible to enjoy this greenery when high up and out of reach of your furry friends. Pothos causes pain and swelling of the mouth, drooling, vomiting and problems swallowing if ingested.

While this list is just a very small sampling of all the plants to look out for, the ASPCA has a wonderful resource where they provide a comprehensive list of both toxic and non-toxic plants for house pets. Always visit your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your pet may have eaten a toxic substance.

Do you have a favorite plant that is both non-toxic and easy to care for? Let us know about it in the comments!


Written by Lauren Pescarus

Sign up now for our Pet First-Aid & CPR Class!

Top Dog Pet Sitter will be hosting our first local Pet First-Aid & CPR class! This is a perfect time for all pet parents to learn new skills or brush up on old ones.  This in-person 4-hour Pet First-Aid & CPR lecture, demonstration and hands-on practice course will meet on Sat 2/10/18  10am-2pm at the Storage Xxtra Conference room in Villa Rica. 

Practice will be done on stuffed animals and canine & feline CPR mannekins.  As much as we love ’em, please leave your pets at home! 

Cost is only $55 for the course! Certificate of Class Completion will be awarded including two pocket size guides. Light refreshments will be provided. Space is limited so register today!  

Register at http://www.petsafetycrusader.com/shop/classes/pet-first-aid-cpcr-class-villa-rica-ga/

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Halloween is fun for humans, but it can be terrifying for our four-legged friends! 
Halloween Pet Safety




Keep Your Pet Inside

Taking Fido along to trick or treat may not be the best idea. Dark streets, houses with strange dogs inside, and kids in costumes may cause too much stress and anxiety for your dog. Leaving him ar home where he is safe and comfortable may be the best decision. 

Leave the Candy to the Humans

Halloween candy is not good for your pet. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and xylitol can be deadly. Be sure to keep all Halloween candy of reach of your pets. 

Proper Identification

When trick or treaters are at the door, you may be too distracted to notice Fido or Fluffy slip outside. Make sure your pets are wearing ID tags or have a microchip in the off chance they get outside. If you are able, keep your pet in a crate or closed room to eliminate the chance that they run out the door while you hand out candy. 

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Halloween decorations can cause severe illness and death if ingested by your pet. If you have a dog that likes to chew on various items be sure to keep decorations out of their reach. If you have a curious cat that may knock over candles inside your jack o lantern, switch to a battery operated candle to prevent a fire or injury to your pet. 

Stranger Danger

If your pet is not too fond of strangers or tends to lunge at people, it doesn’t know be sure to give your pet a safe place to hide away from the area in which you will be handing out candy. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

Pet Costumes

If you plan on having your pet wear a costume for Halloween be sure your pet is comfortable while in costume. Never leave them unattended while wearing the costume and be sure there are no loose or easily accessible pieces that the pet could chew and ingest. Be sure your pet can breathe, hear, and see properly in the costume as well. 

Having your pet be apart of Halloween can be fun, just be sure to use proper judgment and most importantly be sure your pet is comfortable participating!  Follow these Halloween Pet Safety Tips to ensure the entire family has a safe and fun holiday. 


Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie by visiting her website.

How To Keep Your Pet Safe Back to School Edition

Back to School Pet Safety
Pet Safety

School has started. Daily routines are settling. Soon the neighborhood kids and new school friends will be spending the afternoon at your house. Weekend sleepovers will have your living room filled with sleeping bags and toys. Science projects, art supplies, homework, backpacks, & lunch boxes will fill the house. Brushing up on some pet safety tips could prevent an emergency!


Toxic Items 

We are all familiar with the lists that circulate every holiday on items to keep away from your pets. But it is not just holidays when we have to worry about our pets getting into items that can harm them. Did you know that many of the school supplies your kids use every can be harmful to your pet if ingested? Here is a list of items that attract your pets that could be potentially cause choking or a blockage if ingested. According to the ASPCA’s Back to School Safety Tips for Pets, “If a pet gets into a backpack and pulls out art materials, a good place to start in assessing risk is to ask the owners about an ACMI seal. These seals will typically either read AP (approved product) or CL (cautionary label).”

  • Fidget Spinners
  • Erasers
  • Glue (sticks or bottled)
  • Loose Change
  • Small toys like action figures
  • Bouncy balls
  • Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils
  • Pencils/Pens 
  • Paperclips
  • Plastics in lunch bags & backpacks
  • Ice Packs
  • Chewing Gum
  • Grapes & Raisins

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic item or may be suffering from an intestinal blockage, contact your veterinarian or local animal emergency clinic! 

Open Doors

Kids are notorious for leaving doors open. Pets are notorious for running out open doors. Having your child’s new friends from school over means going over safety rules, not just for the children but also for the pets. In addition to reminding them to not feed the pet people food or non-edible items, it is equally important to remind them to keep the doors closed and to watch out for Fido & Fluffy before opening a door. Kids are smart. Kids love animals. Being honest with your children and their friends about what could happen to Fluffy if she has access to the pool or that Fido could be hit by a car if they leave the door open could prevent an unnecessary accident. 

Proper Introductions

Dog bites are becoming front page news every day. Your child’s new friends need to be properly introduced and educated on how to greet your pet and where they can pet them to prevent bites and injuries. Be clear and direct that Fido does not like hands near his face or that no one is to get near him when he is eating. Spare Fluffy the stress and make it known that pulling her tail will not be well tolerated and could end up in a scratch or a cat bite. Kids can be sneaky, so it may be necessary to keep the family pet away from the sleepover shenanigans. If you have a pet that does not do well around new people, it may be best to leave them in a quiet room alone for their safety and the children’s safety. 


Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie by visiting her website.

Back to School: Is It Time To Hire A Dog Walking Company?

dog walkingThe kids are back in school. Like many working parents, your day starts before the sun rises. Between rush hour traffic and after school extra curricular activities, you are lucky to get home before the sun sets. The daily grind keeps you and your family busy all day, but what about Fido? After a getting used to a Summer filled with kids at home, extra playtime in the yard, and random daily walks, back to school can be pretty boring for your dog. Hiring a professional dog walking company, like Top Dog Pet Sitter, could be just what you and Fido need! 

How Can Daily Dog Walking Help My Dog?

Fido sits and waits for you and the family to come home every day. In between naps he longingly stares at the door waiting for the moment his favorite humans walk through the door. If you are like most families, that wait can be 8-12 hours. A daily dog walking visit by one of our professional dog walkers can not only provide Fido with a break in the day, it can also allow him to relieve himself which can keep potty accidents from occurring and health keep Fido healthy. A midday dog walking visit can also provide exercise and mental stimulation for Fido, which makes for a happy companion when the family arrives back home!

Will Daily Dog Walking be a good fit for my dog?

If your dog is okay with staying home alone for at least 4-6 hours with out having an accident or becoming destructive to himself or your house, a midday dog walking visit should be a good option. Even new puppies or seniors that need to go out every 3-4 hours are good candidates for a midday dog walking visit   Give our office a call or visit our services page to find out more about our midday dog walking service. We take the time to get to know each dog we care for to ensure that they are a good fit for the service! 

 Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie by visiting her website.

Complimentary Pet Sitting Extras

pet sitter water plants

A professional pet sitter has both the care of your home and your pets as their top priority. It is a given that your pet sitter will provide your pet care, but did you know that they will also water your plants, collect your mail, and along with other extras? Here is a list of the complimentary pet sitting Extras extras Top Dog Pet Sitters offers along with a pet sitting reservation. 



Watering Plants

We may not have a green thumb, but we would be happy to water your plants while you are away. We can water your indoor & outdoor plants as long as you provide us with the exact instructions for care. There may be an additional fee added if your garden or plant collection takes away from the care of your pets, but in most cases the service is complimentary!


Trash & Recycle 

Not placing your trash and recycle out for pick up like you do every week can be a tell tale sign you are not home. Leaving trash bins full until your return could result in yucky smells, bugs, and rodents. Placing your trash and recycling out for pick up is just one of the complimentary pet sitting extras we offer!  Just let us know your pick up days and we would be happy to follow through!


Home Security

Giving your house an “at home” appearance is one of the perks of hiring a professional pet sitter. As one of our complimentary pet sitting extras, we offer light & curtain rotation service, as well and TV & radio for sound. Making your home appear to have someone there may be a deterrent to potential burglars. We even offer this service those homes without pets! Ask about our house sitting services by visiting our contact us page. 


Feeders for Backyard Birds

Are you one of the many people who enjoy a backyard bird hobby? No need to be worried that your little-feathered friends will find a new feeder while you are away! We will happily refill bird feeder and bird baths while you are gone. 


Mail, Newspaper, & Packages 

Most clients do not realize we will check the mail, collect the newspapers, and bring packages at our visits. We don’t want your home to be a sitting target while you mail & newspapers pile up and we know how crafty some thieves can be about stealing delivered packages. That is why we offer these services. Please keep the deliveries with in reason, your pet sitter may not be able to carry in a large or heavy package. 


Pools & Other Home Features

We may not be a pool service but we do know that the filter requires a clean basket in order to run effectively. We may not be an A/C company, but we know when your unit is not working properly. If you want us to be sure that things are running smoothly with some of your home’s features, just ask  and we will let you know if that is a task we would be happy to add on! 


Keep in mind our main concern is your pet. Therefore any complimentary pet sitting extras that will take away from the time your pet receives and the attention they deserve may have a nominal fee may be added to your invoice.  

Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie by visiting her website.

Should Your Cat Be Eating Wet Cat Food?

cat food

Why do cats need wet food?


Cats by nature are carnivorous animals. Their diet should consist of mostly protein, water, and very little carbohydrates. They are prey animals and like their big cat cousins who kill prey in the wild, they need a diet that consists of less than 10% carbohydrates. Because cats do not process carbohydrates like humans and dogs do, their diets need to be higher in protein. Wet cat food offers a high protein content while also giving your cat a higher moisture content, which is closer to their natural diet.

Obesity and the House Cat

Obesity is growing epidemic among cats. More than half of all cats are obese. The increase in overweight cats is due to the popularity of free feeding dry food. Dry food is high in carbohydrates and when offered in unlimited proportions, it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By feeding wet cat food, carbohydrate content is decreased and a habit of eating a meal is established so your cat can eat at certain times of the day. By feeding meals, you are in control of how much and when your cat eats, versus your cat eating unlimited amounts of food every day.

What if my cat refuses to eat wet food?

Cats are finicky. Some refuse to eat wet cat food. High-quality protein dry food diets that consist of  20% or fewer carbohydrates are available for cats and raw diets are on the rise. 

The folks over at Pet Things in Douglasville can help you choose the best cat food to feed your finicky feline. 

Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie here.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Cat Sitter

cat sitter

Let’s face it, cats can be fickle creatures! If your cat could talk, she would tell you that she would much rather have a staycation at home while you go away vacation, then spend a week in a boarding facility. Cats are homebodies and prefer the comfort of their own domain.  Hiring a professional cat sitter to watch Fluffy in the comforts of home, is the perfect solution for you, your cat, and the security of your home!


Professional Cat Sitters Provide Peace of Mind

Professional cat sitters are serious about their job and they are serious about taking excellent care of your cat and your home. They are bonded, insured, and trained in emergency first aid & Pet CPR. Many professionals have completed continuing education and received certifications to ensure your home and your beloved pet is well taken care of.In addition to checking in on Fluffy, a professional will also check on your home to ensure everything is in working order during your reservation. They will also collect the mail, the newspaper, & and packages that are delivered while you are gone. They take the security of your home very seriously and will give your house an“at home appearance” while you are gone by placing out trash & recycle for pick up, rotating lights, as well as opening & closing curtains. Hiring a professional cat sitter like Top Dog  Pet Sitter will leave you at ease knowing your home and your feline friend are well taken care of!

Professional Cat Sitters Help Keep Fluffy Safe

Although cats can be pretty self-sufficient, they need daily human interaction and mental stimulation to keep them out of trouble. Cats are curious and can often find themselves in perplexing situations. Keeping Fluffy mentally stimulated is one of the many things professional cat sitters are good at! They know all the fun games and activities your cat enjoys playing. They know what situations Fluffy might get into when left home alone and take precautions to prevent injuries. Top Dog Pet Sitter is serious about your cat’s well-being and safety! No one wants to come home and find their cat stuck in a closed bedroom or hanging from the blinds!

Professional Cat Sitters Care About Your Cat 

Every cat a professional cat sitter cares for is just as important as the next. They may care for many cats, but they know each of those cats all by name and what each cat prefers to eat! Your feline friend is a part of your cat sitter’s extended furry family. They take the care and well being of your cat just as serious as you do. This is not just a hobby to a professional cat sitter, it is a passion and a profession. 

Let Christina & Mike treat your cat like royalty while you are enjoying your next vacation! Click here to check out our services page to find out more about our services. Remember, when hiring a professional cat sitter, be sure to check all of their credentials! Professional cat sitters are bonded & insured, CPR First Aid Trained, have a clear background check, and hold other professional certifications and training certificates.

Written by Julie Gajewski, CPPS. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats. You can find out more about Julie here.

Heat Stroke in Dogs

What are the signs of heat stroke in dogs?  

Heat Stroke in Dogs

According to Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, “If left untreated, heat stroke can cause serious damage to organs and may lead to seizures, shock, collapse, coma, and death.” Dogs do not have the same cooling mechanisms humans do. They do not sweat, they pant and use a temperature exchange called convection to cool the body by exchanging the warm body temperatures for the cooler air outside. If the outside air is just as hot as the dog’s body temperature, the dog will be unable to cool itself. 

What are the signs of heat stroke in dogs?

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Bright red tongue/gums
  • Pale gums
  • Thick saliva
  • LethargyWeakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Diarrhea

If left untreated, seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death can occur.

What should I do if my dog is suffering from heat stroke?

First, move your dog immediately from the heat. Transport your dog to your veterinarian immediately. While transporting, it is important to lower your dog’s temperature by placing cool, wet towels under the front legs in the armpit area, on the back of the neck, and in the groin area. Placing your dog in front of a fan to help move the air around him. Never submerge your pet is ice water, cooling your pet too quickly can cause life-threatening medical conditions. Monitoring your dog’s temperature rectally is very important! Once the body temperature is 103ºF, your can stop the efforts to cool your dog down. Remove wet towels, turn off fans, and dry your dog off so your dog’s body temperature does not get too low. Even if your dog is no longer panting and its temperature is normal, a trip to the veterinarian is still needed to ensure your dog is not dehydrated or is suffering from other complications. Have cool water available for your pet to drink at their leisure during the cooling process and after their body temperature is regulated.

How can heat stroke in dogs be prevented?

Provide your dog access to fresh cool water.  Never leave your pet in a hot parked car, the temperature inside a parked car can escalate to 140 degrees quickly. Make sure when outside your dog has access to shade and avoid places like the beach, areas in direct sunlight, or areas covered in concrete where heat is reflected. On hot days limit outdoor exercise. Keep your dog inside in the air conditioning. Provide frozen bottles of water under bedding and towels for your pet to lay on.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, do not hesitate. Take your pet immediately to the veterinarian. 


Staying Cool in the Summer Heat: Tips for Humans & Their Canine Companions

Staying Cool in the Summer Heat: Tips for Humans & Their Canine Companions

staying cool

As dog walkers, we know all too well how hot it gets here in Georgia during the Summer! We take every precaution to keep ourselves and the dogs we care for on our walking excursions cool and to prevent heat exhaustion or worse heat stroke. Here are a few tips on staying cool in the Summer heat when outside with your dog. 

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for both you and Fido when enjoying the great outdoors. Always carry a water bottle for the both of you whether at the park or on a walk. Check out this easy to use travel water bottle for your dog on Amazon. It comes with a small bowl for Fido to drink from. CamelBak has great options for wearable water bottles the keep your hands free while enjoying the great outdoors. 

Doggie Pools

The fastest way to cool down Fido during a hot day is to let him play in a doggie pool. Doggie pools come is all shapes and sizes. There are collapsible pools for easy storage, chew resistant pools, and pools with built-in drains. Check out these doggie pools on Pinterest or go to your local Walmart to buy a good old fashioned kiddie pool. 

Cooling Towels/Cooling Vests

Cooling towels and vests are a great way cool you and your dog during a hot day. For us humans, the Chilly Pad by froggtoggs, keeps you cool all day. It retains water while staying dry to the touch.  For Fido, the Swamp Cooler by RuffWear provides protection from the sun and cooling through evaporation.

Staying cool is key during the summer months for both humans and pets alike. Always make sure you and your pet have ample shade when outdoors and never leave your pet in a hot car!