Five Plants that are Toxic to Your Pets

While we love having plants in our homes and yards we need to be aware that some of those plants are toxic to our pets. Our pets are not aware of the dangers and may chew on the leaves or flowers of these common plants.


We have all seen the articles about having aloe plants in our home to clean the air, but aloe can be very toxic to our dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested aloe here are some of the symptoms to look for: diarrhea, vomiting, depression and occasionally tremors. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. 

Aloe is Toxic to Both Dogs and Cats.

Bird of Paradise

This plant is all over South Florida and it can be mildly toxic to your dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested Bird of Paradise some of the symptoms will include lethargy, vomiting and nausea. Get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Bird of Paradise can cause lethargy and more when ingested.

Calla Lily

This is a very common house plant and it can be very toxic to your dogs and cats.  If you suspect your pet your pet has ingested any part of a calla lily plant you need to seek immediate veterinary attention for them. Some of the symptoms are excessive drooling, vomiting and irritation of the mouth. 

Calla Lily can burn and irritate your pet’s mouth.

Rubber Plant

While this plant is not as toxic as some of the others, it is a common house plant and caution needs to be used. The rubber plant is toxic to both dogs and cats and will cause diarrhea and vomiting. Contact your veterinarian to see what your course of action should be if your pet ingests any part of this plant.

This common house plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Sago Palm

This plant is very common in South Florida and is extremely toxic to your dogs and cats. If your pet ingests any part of the sago palm in can cause death. You must get your pet to a veterinarian without delay. Some of the symptoms are increased thirst, bruising and vomiting. Ingestion of the sago palm can cause severe internal bleeding, liver damage and even liver failure. 

The sago palm can be deadly to your pets.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Overweight and What to do About It.


Did you know that over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight according to the latest veterinary surveys? An obese pet is at greater risk of developing severe health problems. Is your pet fat?

What are the Health Risks?

  • Heart disease

    Overweight dog

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis
  • Many forms of cancer

How can I tell if my dog or cat is overweight?

There are many Body Condition Score (BCS) charts you can find online, but here are a few guidelines for dogs and cats:

  • Obese – It is difficult to feel the ribs because there is a thick layer of fat. The base of the tail is thick and it is difficult to feel the tail base because there is a thick layer of fat. When viewing your pet from above, the back is widened and no waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is no waist and your cat may have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.                    

    Overweight cat

    Having an overweight pet puts them at risk for several health issues.

  • Overweight – It is hard to feel the ribs because there is a sufficient layer of fat. The base of the tail is somewhat thick and hard to feel because of the layer of fat between the bone and the skin. When viewing your pet from above the back is widened and there is little if any waist definition. When viewing your pet from the side there is little if any belly tuck and your cat may still have that hanging belly that swings from side to side when it moves.

What is the ideal body condition for my dog or cat?

  • You can easily feel the ribs.
  • You can feel the base of the tail.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from above there is a defined waist.
  • When viewing your dog or cat from the side there is a belly tuck.

What can I do to help my overweight pet?

Cutting back on their food and increasing exercise are two great places to start. Talk to your veterinarian about how much you should cut out of your pet’s diet and how much exercise they suggest. This is also a great time to rule out any health issues that are already present or are brewing.


Start increasing your pet’s exercise gradually. Just like you can’t get from couch potato to marathon runner, neither can your pet.

While you can grab a leash, and take your dog for a walk, exercising cats take a little more creativity. Use your cat’s inner hunting instinct and play, play, play. Cats are more active at sunrise and sunset, so those are the times you will get more play activity from your cat.

If you don’t have the time to exercise your dog or cat, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to get your pets moving.

Dances with Dogs has a proven track record of helping pets drop unwanted pounds. Click here for more information on how we can help you help your dog or cat lose the weight.

Daily Visits for Cats: Why We Require Them


Cat being pet

Cats need social interaction.

It is easy to see the independence and aloofness of cats as cats not needing much social interaction and care. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Cats need daily care for several reasons. Here are a few:

Cats Are Cats

What does that mean? Cats can find themselves in some precarious situations.

A few years ago, I went to care for one our kitty clients. It was cold for South Florida, down in the 50s. When I arrived at the house I could not find one of the cats, Gizmo. I looked all over the house and called his name, but no Gizmo. I looked under beds and in cabinets. No Gizmo. I knew he had not gotten out, the house was secure, but I walked out onto the patio anyway, calling his name. As I turned around to go back inside I saw him. He was wedged between a desk and the other sliding glass door. He was on his back with his feet up in the air, unable to move. I rushed to get him out of his predicament. How long had he been there? How long had that cold glass been pulling the heat from his body?

Fortunately for Gizmo, the ending is a happy one. I got him warmed up and he was fine, but what would have happened if I had been visiting every other day? Would the ending have been the same? I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think so.

Cats get trapped in bedrooms and closets, drawers and crawl spaces. Cats are curious and that curiosity can get them in trouble.

Cats Are Social

Contrary to the old myth that felines are aloof and independent, cats are actually very social creatures. Cats get lonely and need daily social interaction. Even if you know your cat is going to hide under the bed when the pet sitter arrives, your cat will appreciate having someone in the house. 

Cat in bowl by window

Cats are social and need attention.


Kitties are incredibly sensitive creatures and delaying medical attention can be life-threatening. If your cat falls ill while you are away a professional pet sitter should be able to get your cat to the veterinarian in a timely manner.


Yes, cats can regulate their intake of food, but will they? Obesity is a problem not only for people but also for pets (click here for more information on pet obesity). Leaving “extra” food down for your cat while you are away can lead to your cat overeating and getting sick. A pet sitter will not only be able to portion out your cat’s food properly but will also be able to judge how much or how little your cat is eating. Loss of appetite can be a sign your cat is not feeling well. 

Cat on table

Cats can overeat.

Water, Water, Water

Cats need to have access to fresh water at all times in order to flush toxins from their kidneys. If your cat plays in their water bowl or accidentally tips their bowl over, they could be without water for quite some time if they are not being visited daily. Your pet sitter will also be able to notice if your cat is not drinking enough water which could be a sign of illness.

Checking on Your Home

Some of the things that burglars look for when casing a house is a pile-up of mail, newspapers, packages, and advertisements on the door. Having your cat visited daily has the extra benefit of having your home checked on too. And then there are the unexpected things that happen to your home such as roof leaks and burst water pipes. Having a pet sitter check on your home daily means having these problems caught early so that the damage can be mitigated.

Next time you are making travel plans, be sure to hire a professional pet sitter to check on your cat daily while you are away. Your cat and home will thank you.

If you would like more information on our cat sitting service please contact us.

The Importance of Picking Up After Your Dog


Every day I am out walking dogs and every day I see piles left by dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. I get it! Sticking my hand in a bag so I can pick up a warm pile of dog poop is not exactly on the top 10 list of my most favorite things. But what are the consequences of not picking up after your dog? Well, there are many. Here are just a few of the things that dog poop can contain:

  • E-Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Parvovirus
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Cryptosporidium

[Read more…]