Information for Pet Owners

Loss Prevention


1.  Spay or neuter your pet!  Virginia law requires all adoptions from shelters and rescue organizations to ensure pets are spayed/neutered.  There are also many resources online to help you find low cost spay/neuter clinics in your area.  Animals that are "intact" are much more likely to roam and try to escape.


2.  ALL pets should wear a collar with ID and rabies tags.  Ask your vet or local shelter which collars are safest and least likely to come off.


3.  Microchipping your pet.  It's inexpensive and pets that are microchipped have a much greater chance of being returned to their owner.  Ask your vet or local shelter about microchipping.



If You Lose Your Pet


1.  Call all your local veterinarians and shelters to report the missing animal.  Include your surrounding counties.  Give a full description of the animal, including name, breed, age, size, coloring, whether the animal is spayed/neutered, type of collar and ID, and temperament (friendly, timid, etc.)


2.  Hang posters up around where the animal was lost.  The posters should be big, basic and bold.  You can make more detailed flyers that include a photo and good description of the animal to hand out, but your main focus should be very plain bold posters in large print that are readable from a distance.  Including a reward is always a good idea.  On the right is a good poster example.


3.  Facebook:  Most areas have a lost & found page on which you can post.  You can also post on other local town pages or create your own page.


Lost & Found Dogs-Virginia


Virginia Cat Search


Virginia Lost & Found Cats


4.  There's a very good service called that has a great success rate.  For a basic fee, their automated system will call your neighbors with a recorded message about your lost pet. They can call thousands of neighbors within minutes. If they don’t reach a live person, they try back or leave a message.


5.  Dogs Finding Dogs is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of highly trained handlers and dogs that can track and find a lost pet. Dogs Finding Dogs is a group of Canine Search Teams with years of experience in multi-surface tracking of people and animals. MD * DC * VA * PA *DE

Toxic and Dangerous Foods

Alcoholic Beverages- These can cause gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, drunkenness (ataxia),

central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), or panting, respiratory

failure, acidosis, coma, and death.


Avocado - Birds, in particular, are very susceptible to poisoning; respiratory distress, fluid accumulation

around the heart and death can result from ingestions.


Candy and Gum - candy, gum and other products containing large amounts of the sweetener xylitol can

cause a rapid drop in blood sugar (particularly in dogs), resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures.


Chocolate (all forms) - Chocolate can cause GI irritation, hyperactivity, panting, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and even death, depending on the dose ingested.


Coffee (all forms) - Coffee and tea (including tea leaves) can produce the same effects as chocolate, depending on the dose.


Fatty foods - Foods high in fat can cause GI upset and abdominal discomfort. Can also result in a fatal inflammatory condition of the pancreas (pancreatitis), particularly in dogs.


Macadamia nuts - Macadamias can produce weakness (particularly in the hind legs), depression, vomiting, ataxia, and tremors. Thus far, dogs have been the only species reported to ASPCA that are affected by ingestion of this nut.


Moldy or spoiled foods - May contain certain molds that release toxins that can produce GI irritation, severe tremors, seizures, and death. Spoiled food can also contain bacterial toxins that can produce severe food poisoning signs.


Onions, Onion Powder & Garlic - Onions, garlic, chives and the like can produce GI upset and can cause significant damage to red blood cells.


Potato - As they are in the same family as tomatoes, the green plant parts of the potato can produce similar effects as seen with the tomato.


Raisins and grapes - Ingestions are associated with acute kidney failure in some dogs. Affected dogs initially develop vomiting and drinking a lot of water, and then develop diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.


Salt (including foods high in salt) - Salt and foods containing large quantities of salt can produce a sodium ion poisoning, causing regurgitation, depression, tremors, excessive thirst, diarrhea, elevated body temperature, seizures, and death if with enough consumption.


Tomato - While the red, ripe fruit is not considered to be toxic, the leaves, stem and green unripe fruit can cause severe GI upset, poor appetite, hypersalivation, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, dilated pupils, weakness and slow heart rate.


Yeast Dough - Yeast-based dough cannot only expand in the GI tract as it rises, causing an obstruction or intestinal rupture, but the yeast can form alcohol when it rises which a can cause alcohol poisoning.


Pet owners should also keep in mind that while certain foods may not be "toxic," insignificant amounts they still could potentially produce gastrointestinal upset, especially in animals known to have a sensitive GI tract.


For more information about taboo treats, information about possible home hazards for pets or to make yourself more familiar with pet poisons in general, keep the following contact information where it can be instantly located: or (888) 426-4435.


Please be careful with indoor & outdoor plants including floral arrangements.  For example, pachysandra and lilies are sometimes used in floral arrangements but are very toxic to cats.   If you are unsure of whether a plant is poisonous, keep it out of your animals reach.

Have questions about toxic plants? Looking for information on managing poisonings in animals?

This website contains a searchable list of toxic and non-toxic plants with images and has downloadable copies of articles on over 50 different toxic agents.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control: 888-426-4435

Board-Certified Veterinary Toxicologists available 24/7. 

AnTox database containing 1.3 million poisoning cases

Gentle Leader & No Its Not A Muzzle!

By: Gen Warner, CPDT-KA

Options for managing your dog successfully:

There are multiple choices of equipment for keeping your dog safe. A Martingale collar, The Balance Harness®, and The Freedom Harness are all very good options. These offer you safe control of your dog so your walks can be enjoyable for both of you. Head halters are another option; they sometimes require a little more time and training to acclimate your dog to wearing them. They offer a bit more leverage for a very strong dog that hasn't learned how to walk on a loose leash yet. Two types of these are the Gentle Leader and the Halti ®. ​

gentle leader.jpg
Pet Friendly Housing

Please don't give up your family friends because you are moving! 


Many places will allow you to rent with your pets. MyApartmentMap is a housing search web site, that has pet-friendly listings all over the USA. To get started on your search visit

Also, you can check out Animal Farm Foundation at:


Has Your Dog Been Sprayed by a Skunk?

If a skunk has sprayed your pet, bathe your pet in Dawn dishwashing liquid, rinse thoroughly, then soak your pet with this mixture:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from the drug store)

1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1 teaspoon of Dawn dish detergent

After 5 minutes, rinse with water.  Repeat if necessary.  The mixture may bleach the pet's hair.


Some additional tips:  Do this outside, so the skunk odor does not contaminate your house.  To remove residual skunk odor from your clothes, towels, or other surfaces, you can use one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water, but this will bleach the color from clothes and some surfaces.  Bathing an animal in tomato juice was believed to work because high doses of skunk spray will numb the human's nose to the odor (olfactory fatigue).  When this happens, the smell of tomato juice can still be detected, so a person suffering olfactory fatigue to skunk spray will swear the skunk odor is gone and was neutralized by the tomato juice.  A new person to the scene will be able to smell skunk still!

In Home End of Life Options for Your Pet

By Dr. Sallie S. Hyman founder of Forever Home-In Home Pet Euthanasia

Pets are an important part of our lives.  They are our friends, companions, confidants and protectors.  We nurture and care for them providing not only nutritious food, clean water and shelter, but luxuries of treats, toys, clothing and custom beds.  In short, we want our pets to have happy and comfortable lives free from wants, anxiety, and pain.  We take them into our lives and our hearts and want them with us forever.  Unfortunately, no pet lives forever.  What we can do for them is to make sure that they have a peaceful and pain-free end of life.


     Having to put down a pet is one of the toughest decisions that we, as pet owners, have to make.  How do you know when it is time to make that decision? Quality of life is one of the most important determinants. Is your pet not eating or playing, unable to get up or take walks, soiling in the house or unable to interact anymore? Does your pet have any chronic or increasing pain? Have any medical conditions progressed that are contributing to the decline? If so, it may be time to consider allowing your pet a peaceful and dignified end.  We are very fortunate to have this gift for our pets.


     Many pets experience anxiety and stress going to the veterinarian’s office or are too debilitated to be transported.  Some owners would prefer not to have that anxiety be their pet’s last memory. Others would prefer to have a more private and personal end for their pet in their home. Pets are more at ease when at home surrounded by the family who loves them.


     Forever Home provides in-home pet euthanasia services, “helping to make the toughest choice easier.”  Dr. Sallie Hyman has 15 years of caring and compassionate veterinary experience.  Forever Home serves the Northern Virginia area.  Services include in-home consultations, euthanasia, transport of pets for cremation, and resources for pet loss/grief counseling.  Please call 571-246-3508 or visit us at or on Facebook at Forever Home.

General Helpful Information

Cornell Feline Health Center:



Humane Society of the United States

American Veterinary Medical Association-Care for Pets: 




Jackson Galaxy's Blog for cats: