AIMSS_Leon_iStock_000055992820_MediumAs Valentine’s Day items line the store shelves, love is in the air. While the words “pet safety” may not be the sweet nothings you plan on whispering, it’s definitely important to those with animal companions.

Ahhh, Chocolate!

Most pet owners have a keen fear of chocolate when it comes to their pet – especially for the dog who eats anything.

Chocolate poisonings comprise the majority of veterinary emergencies this time of year. The darker the chocolate, the greater the danger to your pet, since it contains a greater percentage of theobromine and caffeine (the alkaloid toxins).

Since chocolate is often wrapped, many pet owners make the mistake of thinking their pet won’t chew through that heart-shaped box or foil. Think again! Any delectable (wrapped or not) can be smelled, prompting your dog to chow down.

After a pet ingests chocolate, symptoms emerge between 4-24 hours later, depending on the size of your pet and how much was eaten. Initial symptoms generally include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Panting
  • Restlessness

If left untreated, more serious conditions will develop such as heart arrhythmias, tremors, and seizures. Please seek emergency care immediately if you suspect or witness your pet eating anything with chocolate or cocoa.

Also stash all candies and chocolates away, and remember to put wrapped gifts somewhere safe (until you know their contents).

A Bouquet of Toxins

Along with edibles, flowers are another popular gift during Valentine’s Day. While roses are all the rage, some lovebirds also opt for more unusual bouquets or exotic arrangements.

While this may be delightful to you, the problem is that many flowers and plants are poisonous to pets. Some can cause serious harm, such as lilies, which can be lethal to cats. Even roses, which are only mildly toxic, can cause GI tract complications if your pet ingests any thorns.

As a rule, check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants before placing those lovely arrangements on your coffee table.

Lesser Known Risks and Pet Safety Awareness

While gazing into your true love’s eyes, don’t forget to take a few precautions to protect your pet.

These sneaky threats often show up as ingredients and are all of Cupid’s faves:

  • Raisins (often in chocolate assortments)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol (in sugar-free candies)

In addition, if your whiskered pal is curious about candlelight, choose twinkle lights or battery-operated candles instead. Better yet, head out for a candlelit dinner at that amazing new restaurant (far away from paws and tails that tend to knock everything over).

Valentine’s Day is all the more special when you have peace of mind knowing that chocolate and other toxins won’t be on your pet’s menu. So, celebrate this day of love with all your sweethearts, furry ones included!

From all of us at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, we wish you and your pet a happy Valentine’s Day!