Ah, love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is approaching – a day filled with yummy treats, chocolates, candles, flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals with sweet messages.
While you’re enjoying your treat-filled day, be mindful that many of these gifts can be hazardous to the furry and feathered friends in your life.
Candies. Many candies and even baked goods contain xylitol as a sweetener. While xylitol is completely safe for the people in your home, it’s toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death. Signs of xylitol poisoning develop within 15 minutes of xylitol ingestion, and may include vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, tremors, seizures, and coma. The most recent information shows that xylitol is not known to be toxic to cats, but since it’s always better safe than sorry, keep all treats away from cats and dogs! Be aware that some peanut and other nut butters contain xylitol so be cautious of these products in your baked goods.
Chocolate. Who doesn’t love a box of chocolates? Even your pet may want to take a nibble, but chocolate is a big no-no, as it contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs, cats, and birds. The darker the chocolate, the more danger it poses. As little as 1 ounce of baker’s chocolate or gourmet dark chocolate can cause toxic effects in a mid-sized dog or cat. Signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and restlessness. In severe cases, seizures and heart failure can occur. Don’t keep the box of chocolates on the coffee table or other areas where curious pets may be tempted to sample one or two.
Candles. Candles can set the mood for a romantic dinner for two, but can be also be attractive to curious cats or easily knocked over by an excited dog. Place candles out of reach of pets or better yet, use battery powered candles for a worry-free candle-lit dinner.
Plants and Flowers. Some plants can be toxic to your pet, while some may just cause minor gastrointestinal upset – but who wants to deal with a vomiting cat or a pup with diarrhea on Valentine’s Day?! Lilies, however, are extremely toxic to cats, causing kidney failure. Every part of the lily – even the water in the vase – can result in kidney failure in cats. Luckily roses, everyone’s favorite Valentine’s bouquet, are non-toxic to dogs, cats, and birds!
Balloons and Ribbon. Bouquets of balloons can pose a danger to your pets. Balloons can be a fun “toy” for your dog to bounce around on its nose, but if the balloons break and pieces are ingested, they can become lodged in your dog’s digestive tract. Ribbons that tie flower arrangements or balloon bouquets can also become lodged causing what’s known as a linear foreign object which is a life-threatening condition.
Stuffed Animals. Not all stuffed animals are made equally! Those designed for dogs are usually of a hardier construction to withstand punishment from dogs! Plush stuffed animals with romantic valentine messages are not suited for your dog. Button eyes and other easily removed items can create a choking hazard for dogs that chew them off. The stuffing inside can also pose a danger if your dog tears the gift apart and consumes the stuffing. Musical or singing stuffed animals have the additional threat of a small motor and batteries, both of which can cause serious medical problems for your pet if consumed.
Keep your pets safe this Valentine’s Day by keeping the treats out of reach! Be sure to share some love with the pets in your life and consider a little pet-friendly gift too!