Spoiling loved ones with gifts, flowers, and sweet treats is a Valentine’s Day tradition. While this is a fun way for humans to celebrate, many surprises brought into the home on holidays can be potential hazards for pets. Indulge in the day safely for the whole family with these Valentine’s Day Pet Safety tips.
Chocolate tops the list of sweets that should never be given to pets, especially semi-sweet chocolate or baker’s chocolate: the darker the chocolate, the worse its effects. Some signs that indicate your pet may be experiencing chocolate toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, hyperactivity, and abnormal heart rhythm. Depending on the concentration and weight of the pet, toxicity levels could be enough to induce serious illness and in some cases be fatal. When in doubt, pet parents should always contact a veterinarian.
Grapes and raisins
Grapes, raisins, and any candies containing these foods can cause gastrointestinal upset and kidney failure in dogs and cats. Chocolate-covered raisins (e.g. Raisinets) are obviously off the list. All cases should be considered potentially serious and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, excess thirst, and lethargy.
Hard candy and lollipops
These sweets contain a large amount of sugar, which can lead to digestive issues, extreme drops in blood sugar, liver complications or seizures. Be especially aware of candy that is sweetened with xylitol instead of regular sugar. Xylitol is a popular artificial sweetener (primarily to make things “sugar-free”). Many food items with mints, chocolate, peanut butter, and lollipops contain xylitol.
Also, make sure to keep pets away from candy packaging, like sticks and plastic wrappers. If ingested, they can result in choking or intestinal blockage.
If your pet consumes chocolate, raisins, candies containing xylitol, please contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control line.
Decorations and Gifts
Dogs and cats love when their pet parents bring shiny new objects home. Any decoration with strings, ribbons, or tinsels are possible hazards, especially for cats. These items can be swallowed causing intestinal obstructions. If hung within jumping distance, cats are up for the challenge. Extension cords and decorative light sets can electrocute pets if chewed on, so make sure they’re never left unattended or unsecured. Lit candles attract the attention of both kids and pets which causes an instant fire hazard.
For the more curious pets, especially mouthy puppies, smaller gifts like jewelry and plastic packaging are also dangerous if within reach. These objects create blockages in the digestive tract and can be life threatening. Accidentally swallowing a foreign object is another reason pet parents should contact their veterinarian immediately.
Poisonous Plants for Pets
Flower bouquets and plants are one of the most common gifts on Valentine’s Day. They also can cause quite the attraction and danger to dogs and cats. If ingested, any plant may cause some degree of tummy upset, but some are more dangerous than others. Below is a list of common Valentine’s Day plants that are toxic to pets.
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons
One of the most popular flowers on Valentine’s Day, lilies, are extremely toxic specifically to cats. Ingestion of any part of the plant, including the pollen, can result in severe kidney damage and death.
While it is possible for many plants to cause an upset stomach, there are some that are considered less toxic to dogs and cats. Those include:
Although roses are not toxic to dogs and cats, pet parents should be mindful of thorns. Thorns can cause cuts to the mouth, paw, and other areas of the body or cause a bowel obstruction if ingested.
Creating a Safe Environment
A few best practices can help pet parents include their pets in on the fun while maintaining a safe environment for them.
Always keep candy and chocolate covered tightly and out of reach of animals. Give pets their own high reward snacks and toys for the holiday. If they are engaged with something they can have, they are less likely to focus on the things they can’t have. Supervise pets when they are around decorations, food, and gifts they can get their paws on. Remove or secure items when leaving a room.
Sometimes, a pet may still get a hold of something they shouldn’t. The “release” or “drop it” command is one of the most important training tools to keep a dog safe. This command shows them that they’ll get something in return — such as a treat or toy — if they drop whatever item is in their mouth. Cats are different from dogs, but with consistent training and patience, they can be taught the command as well.
Prepare ahead of time and have emergency numbers readily available. For pet health questions big or small, Fuzzy members can chat with the veterinarian support team 24/7, even at 3:00 AM on Valentine’s Day.