skip to content
Pet Care
  • Pet Safety Tips

Owning a pet means being responsible for its health and welfare. For advice on all your animal concerns, speak to your veterinarian.  


Heat stroke happens when your pet’s body can’t cope with the external heat, leading to illness, organ failure and even death. Humans sweat to help regulate their body temperature, but dogs don't have prominent sweat glands, so they rely on panting to cool off. Cats will sometimes groom themselves as a cooling mechanism but may also pant. Due to this limited ability to cope, dogs and cats can be overwhelmed by the heat. 

How can I prevent heat stroke?

  • Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle. Temperatures in a car can skyrocket in a short period of time, even with the windows rolled down. 

  • Be aware that certain dogs are more susceptible to the heat than others, including overweight pets and those with long hair, thick coats or short faces (such as English and French bulldogs). 

  • Keep plenty of fresh water available.  

  • Use air conditioning, fans, cooling pads or a kiddie pool. 

  •  Plan walks and exercise for the morning or evening hours when it’s cooler and the sun isn’t as strong. You might have to shorten walks or exercise periods, especially with snub-nose dogs. 

  • While dogs are at greatest risk, cats and other small pets can also suffer from heat stroke if left in the sun or in a confined, hot space. 


What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

  • Excessive panting 

  • Muscle twitching 

  • Anxious or dazed look 

  • Vomiting 

  • Weakness 

  • Increased drooling 

  • Diarrhea 

A pet suffering from heat stroke needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. 


  • Chocolate – That box of chocolates wrapped and trimmed under your tree may satisfy your sweet tooth, but it's poisonous for your dog. Make sure all food-related gifts are tucked away safely. 
  • Turkey Turkey is delicious, but its bones and fat are too much for your pet's stomach and can cause severe upset. Make sure carcass leftovers are secured away from your pet. 
  • Bones – Bones are never a good choice for a snack, as they may become lodged or splinter in the digestive system. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on appropriate treats. 
  • Tinsel – Pets, particularly cats, love to chew and play with glittery tinsel. Unfortunately, they can't resist eating it, and tinsel can become entangled in the intestinal tract. Often, it must be surgically removed. 
  • Stress – You may love company during the holidays, but consider whether your pet does, too. The presence of many visitors unknown to your pet can cause them unnecessary stress. If you're planning a party, provide your pet with a quiet, secure place to settle in while you entertain. 
  • Electrical cordscandles and decorations – These can pose potential hazards for your pets. Avoid leaving your furry friend unsupervised around these tempting items. Try to segregate your pet from holiday trimmings when you're not home. 
  • Holiday plants – A variety of plantssuch as amaryllis and mistletoe can be toxic to your pet. Check if a plant is safe before bringing it into your home. 
  • Over feeding – You might overeat during the holidays, but don't increase the treats for your pet. Obesity is one of the major causes of long-term ill health in pets. Maintain your animal's regular diet and always have fresh water available. 


Follow these guidelines to protect your pets from being exposed: 

  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. Eating some plants can be fatal to a pet. 

  • Keep cleaning products away from your pet. Some products may only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause burns to the tongue, mouth and stomach. 

  • When using pest bait or traps, put them in areas that aren't accessible to your pets. Most bait contains sweet smelling inert ingredients such as jelly, peanut butter or sugar, which can also attract your pets. 

  • Never give your pet medication unless directed by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals. For example, one 500 milligram acetaminophen tablet can kill a cat weighing three kilograms (seven pounds). 

  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pet’s reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.  

  • Never leave chocolate or foods containing xylitol in reach. Even small amounts can be dangerous if ingested. 

  • Many common household items can be lethal to animals. Mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dish detergent, batteries, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and hand and foot warmers are all highly toxic, even in small amounts. 

  • Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that aren't accessible to your pet. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat weighing three kilograms (seven pounds, and less than one tablespoon can be lethal to a dog weighing nine kilograms (20 pounds). 

  • Read the information on labels before using a product on your pet or in your home. Always follow the directions. If a product is for use only on dogs, it should never be used on cats, and if a product is for use only on cats, it should never be used on dogs. 

  • Make sure your pets don't go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely. Always store these products in areas that aren't accessible to your pets. 

If you're uncertain about the use of any product, ask the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.  

More Resources

Importation of pets into Canada is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. See import guidelines for the more common pets.

Cannabis of any type is not approved for use in animals, and giving products to your pet may have unknown side effects, unproven effectiveness and could result in a medical crisis. Signs of cannabis toxicity in pets: 

  • Lack of balance and coordination 

  • Fatigue or weakness 

  • Excessive salivation 

  • Vomiting 

  • Dilated pupils 

  • Disorientation 

  • Slow heart rate 

  • Change in body temperature 

  • Sensitivity to light and sound 

  • Urinary incontinence 

If you think your pet has ingested cannabis, take them to a veterinary hospital immediately, and don’t be afraid to tell the veterinarian that your pet has accidentally ingested cannabis products.  

Some of the most common toxic plants include lilies, autumn crocus, azalea, cyclamen, kalanchoe, oleander, dieffenbachia, daffodils, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulips and hyacinths. View a comprehensive list of poisonous plants.
Travelling with a pet can be stressful for both you and your pet, but advance planning can help make the experience better. View these tips