Love Your Pet on Valentine’s Day!!

Heart your pet

Each year on Valentine’s Day, the poison control center reports a significant rise in cases of poisoned pets around February 14.  Many of these involve pets eating chocolate, greenery, flowers or toys. Do not leave gifts of candy, flowers, and plastic or stuffed toys where your pets can get to them.

Here are a few guidelines to ensure a safe Valentine’s Day for your furry loved one:


Before sending a floral arrangement to someone you love that may have a pet, ask the florist not to use any plants that might be toxic to dogs or cats. Most Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and other flowers and greenery can be a problem for both dogs and cats. These can include Lilies —  Asian Lily, Arum Lily, Bird of Paradise, Lilly of the Valley, Tulips, Amaryllis, Daisies, Chrysanthemums, Baby’s Breath, Bride’s Bonnet, Caladiums, Carnations, Bracken or Brake Fern, Bamboo Palm, Dieffenbachia, Elephant Ears and others).

If you are considering sending a plant that you or a florist are not sure about, you can check at the ASPCA poison control for toxicity.

When you receive a bouquet, make sure to double check for any toxic flowers or greenery.  If you are not sure if it’s toxic remove it!

Keep pets away from thorny stemmed flowers. Biting, stepping on or swallowing their sharp, woody spines can be painful and cause infection if a puncture occurs. Learn how to de-thorn your roses or other thorny stemmed flowers and carefully dispose of the thorns.


Experienced pet lovers know the potentially life-threatening dangers of chocolate. Toxicity varies by type of chocolate.  In order of toxicity, the most toxic is baker’s chocolate and even a small amount can be dangerous. Next toxic is dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, and then milk chocolate.  All types of chocolate contain the toxic theobromine (a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean) in different concentrations. It affects the central nervous system and the heart and has a dose-related toxicity in dogs and cats.

Signs of toxicity include increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, seizures, and collapse.

Call your vet or the ASPCA poison control if your pet eats chocolate.  They can help determine if the dose is toxic and will ask you for the weight of your pet, the type and amount of chocolate eaten and how long ago it happened.

Remember that overeating any chocolate, food or candy can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas and possible serious GI upset. Often supportive medical care can help an animal avoid distress.

Treats Sweetened with Xylitol:

Even very small amount of Xylitol can be seriously toxic and fatal. Gum, candy and other treats that include this sweetener can result in a sudden and dangerous drop in blood sugar known as hypoglycemia. Sign include sudden depression, loss of coordination, seizures and collapse.  Emergency medical attention is required for any animal eating any xylitol.


Spilled wine, half a glass of champagne or some leftover liquor can be dangerous to your pet. Since animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting and diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and even coma. Potentially fatal respiratory failure can also occur if a large enough amount is ingested.


It’s pleasant to set an evening aglow with a candlelight setting; however, do not forget to monitor pets near flames and to put out the fire when no one is in the room. Pawing kittens and nosy pooches can be burned or cause a house fire by knocking over unattended candles as a result of their curiosity.

Stuffed Toys:

Pets can love stuffed animals just as much as human do. Stuffed animals with undigestible stuffing, button noses, eyes, or other chewable, removable or swallow-able parts can cause life-threatening GI blockage or GI upset. Always make sure the stuffed toy is designed for use by your pet and is resistant to becoming torn or broken. Toy stuffing may become a choking hazard or, in some cases, poisonous if ingested.


Ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, cellophane and balloons, if swallowed, can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract causing your pet to choke or vomit.

Ribbons, bows, and balloons are especially interesting to cats and should be removed promptly.

Emergency Care:





Royal, B., & Royal, A. (2012). Emergency Care. In The Royal treatment: A natural approach to wildly healthy pets. New York: Emily Bestler Books/Atria: 273-91.

ASPCA Guide to a Pet-Friendly Valentine’s Day. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from

Why Chocolate Poisons Dogs and How to Treat Chocolate Dog Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from

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