Top 10 Valentine’s Day Pet Dangers

Valentine’s Day is all about love and all… But it can mean danger and a trip to the ER if you’re not careful with your sweet, loving pet.

Here are 10 tips to live by on Valentine’s Day… and always.
Puppy and kitten

1. Beware of flowers

If you’re going to offer flowers, they might as well be out of the reach of your pets. Not only because they’re not the recipient, but also because some flowers can be toxic. This includes lilies, tulips, Amaryllis, daisies, chrysanthemums and Baby’s Breath!

Flowers are easy to keep away from dogs… It can be tougher with a cat, so be aware of which flowers should be banned from your house.

2. Beware of thorns

As the song goes, “every Rose has its thorn.” Most Rose varieties may not be toxic, but their thorns can be harmful to pets, whether they play with them, bite them, step on them or swallow them.

3. Beware of alcoholic beverages

Alcohol can cause vomiting, lack of coordination, depression and tremors. At worst, it can lead to a coma, respiratory failure and death.

And yes, I’m talking about pets.

4. Beware of candy

Pets can choke on candy, or it can irritate or block there intestine. The same can be said about candy wrappers and lollipop sticks.

Not convinced? Think it can’t happen? I remember performing surgery on April, a sweet, 8-year-old Dobie who had an intestinal blockage due to foreign bodies: a peanut butter cracker wrapper, foil and a straw! In addition to the blockage, the foreign material very caused her to “bloat” the night before… Fortunately she recovered well after surgery.

5. Beware of chocolate

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand-in-hand. However, chocolate is toxic for pets, and possibly deadly. It only takes 1.5 ounces of unsweetened chocolate to cause toxicity in a 10 pound dog. For cats, the toxic dose is even lower.

In dogs, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an increased heart rate. In cats, it can lead to an upset GI tract. At worst, seizures and death can occur.

6. Beware of xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy. It can cause a number of signs, from vomiting to seizures to fatal liver failure… It can also cause a rapid drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can lead to depression, loss of coordination and seizures. The treatment at home is to give food and a source of sugar (Karo syrup, pancake syrup) and to go straight to your family vet or the closest vet ER.

7. Beware of candles

Candles can attract curious pets and cause serious burns. They also can be a fire hazard if they are knocked over by a pet or its tail. Please be safe and don’t leave your pet alone in a room with a burning candle.

8. Beware of wrapping material

Wrapping paper, foil, tape, ribbon and bows are all potential dangers if ingested. Ribbon is probably the most deadly, as it can cut into the intestine, especially in cats.

9. Beware of pets as gifts

If you are tempted to offer your Sweetie a kitten or a puppy for Valentine’s Day, please think more long-term. Adopting a new pet is a big deal, it should not be based on an impulse. Instead, consider offering a gift certificate to adopt a pet at your local shelter, with the mention that “we should talk about it thoroughly.”

As a reminder, 99% of pets adopted from a pet store, no matter how cute they are, were born in a puppy mill.

10. Beware of fatty food

Sharing a delicious meal with your pet is a common temptation. Yet fatty food can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis, or inflammation (irritation) of the pancreas. This causes severe belly pain and vomiting. It’s a classic scenario at family vets and emergency clinics after any major holiday or celebration. So please let your pet eat pet food, and enjoy your delicious Valentine’s human meal.

That said, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

All you need is love…

Until next time,

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile veterinary surgeon and award-winning author who’d like to share his adventures in practice along with information about veterinary medicine that can really help your pets. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!