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Toxic Treats: Valentine’s Day Pet Dangers

When romance is in the air and the candles are lit, it’s easy to forget that our pets may be staking out our box of chocolates or rose bouquet. And, when it comes to pet dangers, this holiday presents more than a few risks to our fur friends.

Valentine’s Day often means gourmet dinners, delectable treats, and time spent with loved ones. So, how can you protect your four-legged sweetheart when distraction is likely?

Heart-Shaped Box

Year after year, one of the most common reasons for calls to the Pet Poison Helpline is accidental chocolate poisoning by a pet – and, in 98% of cases, it’s the family dog.

In many of these situations the accident occurred because a pet owner made the dire assumption that because the chocolate was foil wrapped or boxed, it was safe to be left out. But, as most of us know, chow hounds will consume plastic, cardboard, or foil if it smells inviting.

What is the scoop with chocolate? Why is something so delicious to us, so poisonous to our pet friends?

Simply, pets lack the ability to properly metabolize the two pernicious ingredients: caffeine and theobromine. Both of these alkaline substances can create a host of negative consequences (vomiting, heart arrhythmia, seizure, etc.) when absorbed by the bloodstream.

Severity of chocolate poisoning is determined by your pet’s size and how much chocolate was consumed. The darker the chocolate, including cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate, the higher the percentage of toxicity levels.

Since timing is of essence in effective treatment, do NOT wait for symptoms to emerge if you witness your pet ingest chocolate. Get him or her to a veterinarian right away. West Park Animal Hospital’s emergency clinic is open until 1am every day.

Bouquet of Bane

Another lovely gift that can create problems for pets is the Valentine’s bouquet.

Rose petals and stems can irritate the GI tract and thorns can create internal and external injuries. Alongside roses, some of the more toxic of Cupid’s blooms are lilies. Lilies are often added to many bouquets and they are extremely poisonous to cats, and can even result in kidney failure.

Since most blooms are also sprayed with pesticides and preservative chemicals, it is best to keep all bouquets in a room that is off limits to your fur companion.

Other Pet Dangers

So, it is Valentine’s Day eve and you are setting the mood with candlelight and a favorite sparkling beverage. What’s not to love?

Well, a fire emergency or singed whiskers or tails for one.

Assuming you will be immersed in the sweet nothings of the romantic evening, remember that your curious canine or cat may be checking out that unfinished glass of vino or beautifully wrapped gift (of which you may be uncertain of the contents).

The following items are high on the list of pet “no no-s” and are often associate with Valentine’s celebrations:

  • Chocolate – especially chocolate covered raisins, coffee beans, or macadamia nuts, all of which are toxic to pets and can be found in assortment boxes
  • Lit candles (opt for battery operated instead, or keep them in a pet-free zone)
  • Candy wrappers and foil
  • Flower bouquets
  • Gift wrapping, such as bows and ribbon

To keep the love in the air this holiday, make sure the celebration remains pet safe for your smallest (and perhaps most adorable) valentine.

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