As you search for that perfect gift for your Valentine, remember that some traditional gift ideas and celebrations may be dangerous for your furry or feathered companions.
Pets love to investigate anything new and interesting and love to get into forbidden treats. Each year, veterinarians and emergency clinic personnel see a rise in poisoning cases around February 14, many involving chocolate and toxic flowers and plants. The following tips will keep your romantic gestures from turning into an emergency room visit for Fido or Fluffy.
Chocolate does not spell “love” for your pets. A 10 pound dog can develop gastrointestinal upsets, hyperactivity, seizures and an elevated heart rate from eating just two ounces of baking chocolate and larger amounts can kill him. Liver damage is also a possibility and is not as obvious or easy to detect. Cats are also sensitive to chocolate but are much less likely to eat large amounts of chocolate because they generally are not attracted to sweet foods. And remember – just because the box is closed doesn’t mean it is safe from your pets. According to the ASPCA, chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning seen by vets.
Curious pets who explore adult beverages left within their reach can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and coma. Large amounts can lead to death from respiratory failure. In other words, animal reactions to alcohol are very similar to our reactions but potentially are much more dangerous because their bodies are smaller and less efficient at metabolizing alcohol. So – don’t leave your drinks where your pets can reach them and if you spill a little wine or champagne on the table, take the time to wipe it up.
Some types of candy are sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute which can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Small amounts ingested by small animals can cause depression, loss of coordination and seizures.
Flowers may be lovely for your sweetheart but dangerous to your cat or dog. Virtually all species of lilies are highly toxic to cats. When sending a floral arrangement to anyone with felines in the home, specify that it contain no lilies or ask the florist to attach a warning label letting the recipient know to keep the arrangement away from the cat. Pet parent who receive floral arrangements should remove all dangerous items before displaying the arrangement in a location that is accessible to family pets. Other potentially poisonous flowers include tulip and amaryllis bulbs, daisies, chrysanthemums and baby’s breath. The ASPCA website provides a list of common toxic plants and a searchable toxic and non-toxic plant library to help pet parents determine what items in a bouquet may be dangerous to pets.
Thorns from long-stemmed roses, a Valentine’s Day favorite, also pose a hazard for playful pets if stepped on, bitten, played with or swallowed. The packets of chemicals that come with floral arrangements that are added to the water to keep the flowers fresh can also harm your pets if ingested. Your best bet is to keep all Valentine’s plants and flowers out of reach of curious pets.