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Pet Safety Tips For Valentine’s Day From A Westminster, MD Veterinarian

February 1 2024

Happy Valentine’s Day! The winter holiday is a fun time to send loved ones small gifts and trinkets. It’s also a special event for couples. Just be careful, as many of Cupid’s accessories are dangerous to our pets! Here are some tips from a local Westminster, MD veterinarian on how to ensure your pet stays safe and sound this week.

Keep Candles Away From Pets

Fire and pets are always a dangerous mix. In fact, pets start over a thousand fires every year! Fluffy can easily stick her tail into a candle flame, while Fido can knock one over.

If you want some mood lighting in a spot your pet can reach, opt for flameless candles. These provide beautiful lighting without the danger.

Stick With Safe Foods

Romantic dinners are a very popular way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Your furry best buddies may be very interested in sharing your dinner with you. Just be careful about what you offer. Many popular foods are toxic to them. We mentioned chocolate above. Some of the others include meat on the bone, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, avocado, raw dough, yeast, xylitol, and anything high in salt, sugar, or fat.

In addition, we want our customers to be aware of the common signs of poisoning in pets. These include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Inability To Urinate
  • Trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Pale Gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Urination
  • Dark stools
  • Swelling
  • Increased Thirst
  • Collapse 

Please contact us at 410-875-5437 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661 immediately if you see any of these signs. (Charges may apply.)

A pet first-aid kit may include things that are useful in a poisoning situation, such as peroxide or activated charcoal. However, you should only use these if and when directed to by your veterinarian or pet poison hotline.

Don’t Give Pets Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods for pets. It’s one of the only things that is toxic to pretty much all of our animal companions, with the exception of rats and mice. As little as one pound per ounce of your pet’s weight can kill them.

A substance known as theobromine is the problem here. Theobromine is very similar to caffeine, which is also found in chocolate. Pets cannot metabolize it properly. 

Some of the warning signs of ingestion include:

  • Panting  
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Thirst
  • Excessive Urination
  • Racing Heart Rate

While it’s rare for pets to ingest a fatal dose, it is definitely possible. More severe symptoms include muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.

Not all types of chocolate are the same here. Dark, bitter chocolate has the highest cocoa content, and is therefore the most dangerous. That means that baker’s chocolate and unsweetened chocolate are the most toxic, and are more dangerous than milk chocolate. Even something with just a small amount of chocolate is  unsafe, though.

It’s also worth pointing out that many chocolate sweets contain a lot of fat and sugar, which can cause pets to become ill. In severe cases, these things can even cause pancreatitis. Ask your Westminster, MD veterinarian for more information.

Flowers Should Be Handled Carefully

Bouquets are a traditional Valentine’s Day gift. There are a few things to be concerned with here as well.

Roses are the most iconic Valentine’s Day flower. They aren’t toxic, but can still be dangerous. The thorns can cut pets’ mouths, and can cause internal injuries if ingested. 

Lilies, on the other hand, are extremely poisonous. In fact, they are among the most deadly plants for cats. Fluffy can end up suffering organ failure just by nibbling a leaf or drinking a little water.

Other popular flowers that are toxic to pets include:

  • Oleander
  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinth
  • Lily Of The Valley
  • Tulips
  • Cyclamens
  • Irises
  • Hydrangeas

The ASPCA’s website lists a complete list of plants that are safe and unsafe here

Toxicity isn’t the only issue, however. You need to be careful with any flowers that have been treated with pesticides, and/or were decorated with glitter or small ornaments—like a plastic heart or a cute little Cupid.

Keep Stuffed Animals Away From Fido

Small parts or pieces on or in stuffed animals can pose serious choking hazards. These include things like plastic eyes or the buttons on teddy bear vests. Fido is also at risk if he ingests stuffing or squeakers. Some dogs remove these with almost surgical precision, which is cute but actually quite dangerous: that filling is not something you want your pet consuming. Things that sing, move, or light up should be handled with extra care, as they would contain batteries. 

(Note: Fido is probably more at risk here than Fluffy. Man’s Best Friend is often very interested in eating  or chewing on stuffies. A kitty is probably more likely to curl up with that cute teddy bear for a nap.) 

Keep The Candy Bowl Away From Fluffy And Fido

While candies may not be the top safety concern in your home, pet owners should still be aware of potential hazards it poses. Smaller candies can pose a choking risk for pets and even the wrappers themselves could lead to intestinal blockages if ingested. Additionally, ingredients like xylitol (also known as birch sugar) that are found in many sweets can be toxic for both dogs and cats. And let’s not forget about chocolate, which is another common danger for our furry friends. (It’s worth noting that all that fat and sugar in candy is not exactly healthy for pets either.)

Don’t Let Pets Chew Cards

Many of our canine pals are very enthusiastic chewers. Even if Fido is usually good, you should probably err on the side of caution here, and be careful with cards. Paper isn’t a big deal in and of itself. The concern here is primarily with cards that play music or light up, as these items contain small pieces, which your pet definitely should not be eating.

Never Give Pets Alcohol

Like many other days, the romantic holiday has its own menu. Many couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with a candlelit dinner and a bottle of wine. Be careful here! You can get Fido a chew toy shaped like a wine bottle. Fluffy can even enjoy her own catnip wine, but don’t share the real stuff with your pet. 

Even ingesting small amounts of alcohol can cause your pet’s blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature to drop. Ingestion of enough can result in seizures, respiratory failure, and death for your pet.

Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Depression  
  • Lethargy
  • Lack Of Coordination
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Trouble Breathing

If you notice any of these issues, contact your Westminster, MD veterinarian immediately.

Pets and Valentine’s Day

Now that we’ve finished with the serious stuff, Let’s move on to the fun stuff. How about including Fido and Fluffy in your Valentine’s Day festivities? Pet product companies are making a wide variety of adorable accessories. These can make for some great photos! Your feline buddy can enjoy batting at a catnip heart, while Fido will look adorable posing in a flowery heart made out of rose petals. You can also get a cute jacket or blanket for him to wear.

Conclusion: Here’s to a paws-itively wonderful Valentine’s Day with your beloved pets! By following these safety tips, you can enjoy the sweet lovers’ holiday without compromising your pet’s well-being.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Contact us, your local Westminster, MD pet hospital, if you have questions about your pet’s health or care.