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A Safe Valentine’s Day for Furry Friends

Many people all over the world celebrate Valentine’s day. This holiday can be a fun tradition for families, friends and couples. Unfortunately, certain aspects of the holiday are not safe for our furry family members.

Around the same time as the holiday, vet clinics tend to see a rise in various types of toxicities. 

The most common toxicity people tend to think of around Valentine’s day is chocolate toxicity. Both caffeine and theobromine are ingredients in chocolate that are toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. If your pet ingests chocolate, it is crucial to call your veterinarian right away.

Your vet will want to know some information, such as the type of chocolate and how much they ate. If you take your pet to the vet clinic, please try to remember to bring the wrapper or package. This can help to tell you if your pet is in a toxic range.

Signs & Symptoms of chocolate ingestion and toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, a high heart rate, and potentially death. Even if your pet doesn’t eat enough chocolate to cause toxicity, it can still cause other issues such as pancreatitis.

Many people gift flowers for Valentine’s Day. Did you know that many types of flowers are toxic to pets? Some just cause gastrointestinal irritation, while others can cause severe illness and death. While flowers are beautiful, it is important to keep in mind if the person you are buying them for has pets. Lillies are extremely toxic to pets and should not be given to anyone with pets. Roses can cause gastrointestinal upset and the thorns can cause serious damage to the pet. Signs of flower ingestion can be vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. 

Xylitol is a toxic substance that most pet owners are unaware of. It is an artificial sweetener found in gum, candy, and some peanut butter.

Please check the ingredient list and keep people food away from your furry friends. Ingesting xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar (this is called hypoglycemia). Signs include depression, loss of coordination and seizures. 

Decorations and wrapping paper can also cause a threat to pets. If ingested these things can cause a gastrointestinal upset as well as obstructions. Obstructions can be life-threatening and generally require surgery.

Signs that your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have and may have an obstruction are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, inappetence, and a painful abdomen. Many people use a lot of candles to decorate for Valentines Day, which is also a hazard for pets. Curious pets can burn themselves on candles or knock them over and start a fire.

Just because certain aspects of the holiday may not be safe for pets doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate at all. Just try to avoid the unsafe things so that all members of the family are safe, happy, and free to enjoy. There are many special pet treats and toys marketed out there for pets to enjoy on the holiday!

Written by: Mikaila Cariou, RVT

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