How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Valentine’s Day

Dr. Sandy Tisdelle

Chocolates and flowers and candles, Oh My! I’ve always though Valentine’s Day was a sneaky little holiday.  When you’re single it creeps past you quietly then wags its tail in your face reminding you there is one less holiday to be had for us independent folk.  Then, when you’re in a relationship, it impresses upon you that even though you may have just picked out the perfect Christmas gift for your honey and splurged a little too much, now it’s time to do it again.  It’s sneaky for our pets too.  Most of us with pets have been reminded to be careful about candy on Halloween, fattening foods at Thanksgiving, and sweets and tinsel at Christmas; but what about Valentine’s Day?  What hidden dangers might be in your house?

  • Chocolate:

    Well, that’s a given.  I better not see a Valentine ’s Day without chocolate.  Chocolate is weight and dose dependent in dogs.  Smaller dogs need less chocolate to get a toxic dose than large dogs.  Also, darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate because it is all about the percent of cocoa.  Not all chocolate ingestion is going to result in a toxic dose but you will want to call your vet or animal poison control to be sure.  Better yet, just remember to keep it out of your fur babies reach. 

  • Flowers:

    “Just Say No to Lilies”, would read my cat mom bumper sticker if I ever made one. Every day I look at my cat and wonder what it is in her cat brain that makes her taste each and every plant that comes into my house. I’ll never know the answer but at least I have someone else to blame for my black thumb. While lilies may not be a common flower to give on Valentine’s Day they are highly toxic to cats and can result in death from kidney failure.  Outside of lilies, there are many other flowers that may cause gastrointestinal issues in cats and dogs. You can find a complete list from the ASPCA here. While they may not be as toxic as lilies, it is still recommended to keep your cat from eating them.

  • Candles and Essential Oils:

    Curious cat + open flame = vet visit. Burnt whiskers may give your cat character but it’s a sure sign your cat is curious and fearless.  Unattended candles left in your cat’s reach could be hazardous.  Kittens especially will be curious about flames and end up with lopsided whiskers.  In addition, scented candles and certain essential oils can be irritating to your cat’s respiratory system.  Do not apply essential oils to your pets directly without asking your veterinarian first.  Be sure to eliminate all flames and diffusers from the room when you leave so as not to expose the pets for a prolonged period of time.

To be real, if you’re like me and your favorite valentine is your four legged valentine, keep a few things in mind when spoiling your special someone.   Your cat and/or dog is likely not accustomed to eating rich foods or human foods.  Don’t overdo it on the treats.  Give your pup a special day and spend it outside at a dog park, hiking, or just sun bathing.  Take some extra time and play with your cat or just snuggle (it’s hard to predict their mood).   They even make edible cat plants you can buy now!  Let’s face it, our pets are the “people” in our lives that don’t need gifts and just want our time and love.  Happy cuddles.

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