Information for Pet Owners

Human Foods can be Deadly for Pets

As many pet owners enjoy offering their animal companions a tidbit or two of "people food", it is important to be aware of some of the foods that can be potentially harmful:


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 (pancreatits), 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 have been been 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 enough is consumed.


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, hyper salivation, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, dilated pupils, weakness and slow heart rate.


Yeast Dough - Yeast-based dough can not 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 considered "toxic", in significant 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 just make yourself more familiar with pet poisons in general, keep the following contact information where it can be instantly located: or (888) 426-4435.



Cocoa Mulch

Please tell every dog or cat owner you know.

Even if  you don't have a pet,  please pass this to those who do.

Over the weekend, the doting owner of two young lab mixes  purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to

use in their garden. The dogs loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to  keep cats away from

their garden. Their dog  (Calypso) decided the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large

helping.  She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something  new but wasn't acting

lethargic in any way.  The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Halfway

through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.


Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's

web site, This product is HIGHLY TOXIC to dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's,

and they claim that "It is true that studies have shown that 50%  of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can

suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog).  However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it." site gives the following information:

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other garden supply  stores contains a  lethal ingredient called 'Theobromine'. It is lethal to dogs and  cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks.

Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is  toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline.  A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.













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


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


Board-Certified Veterinary Toxicologists available 24/7.  AnTox database containing 1.3 million poisoning cases


Please be careful with indoor & outdoor plants including floral arrangements.  Pachysandra is sometimes used as greenery in floral arrangements but is very toxic to cats.  If you are unsure of whether a plant is toxic err on the side of caution & keep it out of your animals reach.


Many flea shampoo products are toxic and harmful to young kittens, adult cats and puppies. It is very important to read the label carefully to insure safety. Most shampoos that are available at a veterinary hospital are safe but again, read the instructions. If the label does not state specifically that it can be used for cats, do not use it on cats or kittens. Murphy's Oil Soap is a safe and non-toxic product for bathing kittens and puppies for fleas. It is also a cruelty free product (no animal testing.) Murphy's Oil Soap is a very safe flea shampoo for young animals of all types, just be sure to rinse well.

Gentle Leader is not a muzzle!!!


by: Gen Warner,

Certified Animal Trainer



Does a walk with your dog normally consist of you holding onto trees and mailboxes to stop your dog from dragging you into the next county? Have you begun to dread taking your dog anywhere? Are you tired of fighting for control? Would you like to have a working relationship with your dog, but cannot seem to get his attention? If you answered "YES!" to one or all of the above questions, there is something out there that can help. It is not a miracle. It is not a cure-all. It is not a muzzle. It is called a headcollar. The headcollar on a dog uses the same principle as a halter on a horse. Namely, if you have control of the head, you have control of the animal. When was the last time you saw someone walking a horse with a neck collar? The headcollar is not painful and does not constrict the trachea (like chain collars). The two most readily available brands are the Gentle Leader and the Halti. Several shelter dogs have benefited from both. After a brief adjustment period, you will be amazed at the difference

Pulling Up the Welcome

Mat on "Bully" Breeds


If you're planning a move to Denver, be sure to bring your skis - but not your Pit Bull Terrier. This breed is no longer allowed within the Mile High City's limits. You can bring your Rottweiler with you, however don't be surprised if you are denied a homeowner's insurance policy or if you have to pay a hefty premium because of your dog.


Indeed many communities across the nation are yielding to public pressure by passing laws that prohibit ownership of certain so-called "bully" breeds, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas and the like. These bans ignore the fact that a Cocker Spaniel is statistically much more likely to bite than either a Rottweiler or Pit Bull. Yet an attack by a large, powerful dog is certainly going to cause much greater harm than a bite from a Bichon Frise - and create a much more sensation story in the press. Thankfully, though there have been many more communities that have passed laws prohibiting the discrimination of a particular breed of dog in lawmaking and in providing homeowner's insurance policies. These communities are to be congratulated for acknowledging that responsible guardianship is the key to preventing dog attacks. As the saying goes, "it's the deed, not the breed." What's more, the deed isn't always that of the dog. It's the deeds of the guardians that make the most difference.


Good neighbors ensure that their dogs are properly fed and sheltered, well trained, secure within their homes and yards, and adequately socialized so as to interact appropriately with people and other dogs. In addition, spaying and neutering dogs help reduce aggression, as well as the overpopulation of unwanted dogs in shelters.

Pet Friendly Housing

Please don't give up your family friends because you are moving!  There are many places that will allow you to rent with your pets.  To get started on your search visit

MyApartmentMap is a housing search web site, that has pet friendly listings all over the USA.

Has your dog been sprayed?

If your pet has been sprayed by a skunk, soak your pet with this mixture:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from 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 once cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water, but this will bleach the color from clothes and surfaces.  Bathing an animal in tomato juice was believed to work because high doses of skunk spray will numb the humans nose to the odor (olfactory fatigue).  When this happens, the odor 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 still smell skunk!

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 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.


Contact Us


Middleburg Humane Foundation

P.O. Box 1238

Middleburg, VA 20118


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Appointment Hours:


Monday: Closed

Tues - Sat: 11am-5:30pm,

Sunday- Closed


All visits to the shelter are by appointment only, please.

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