Pets and Valentines Day Don’t Mix6 min read

 In Holidays, Valentines Day



Valentines day is a happy day for most people and it helps brighten an otherwise cold, gray skied mid winter day.  Valentines day can be an extravagant affair with all the trimmings or just a simple card that says “I love you”.  Either way, our pets want to be involved in the celebration but can end up getting in to trouble.  Pets and valentines day can be troublesome. Weaving throughout the various topics on pet medicine is the constant thought that dogs and cats are like perpetual toddlers.  If there is temptation in the air they will fall for it.  Practically every part of valentines day can cause harm or illness to a dog or cat. Pets and valentines day definitely do not mix.  From a human perspective, when you let down your guard problems will get in the way.




If you think that most people have a sweet tooth wait till you see what dogs think about chocolates.  They would do ANYTHING for the food.  You could put a box of chocolates on the roof and a dog would find it.  Problem is, many times they do.  Pets and valentines chocolates do not mix!  Chocolates contain stimulants known as theobromine and caffeine.  Many animals will suffer just a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. In excessive amounts the drugs can cause an elevation of the heart and respiratory rate, arrythmias and, in severe cases, respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Chocolate toxicity varies depending on the size of the dog and the type of chocolate that the animal ingests.  Milk chocolates have much less theobromine than darker chocolates.  The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate the more theobromine it has. One of the worst chocolates for dogs to get a hold of is bakers chocolate.  This is used to make brownies and other desserts.  The little chocolate nuggets that are found on chocolate chip cookies also cause problems.  Small dogs can reach much higher toxic doses with a smaller amount of chocolate than a large dog since the level of toxicity is based upon milligrams per kilogram.  What would cause severe medical problems in a Yorkshire Terrier wouldn’t faze a Golden Retriever.  Chocolate is best kept out of reach of all dogs and cats to minimize pets and valentines issues.




That phrase penned by Gertrude Stein in her 1913 poem “Sacred Emily” is still poignant today.  I doubt there is a woman alive that would turn down a dozen long stemmed roses.  They are beautiful but they all have thorns.  Dogs that ingest them can receive, at the minimum, ulcerations in the mouth or tongue.  It is even worse when they are swallowed.  They can cut the esophagus or digestive tract lining leading to medical problems.  Keep the vase with the roses as far away as possible from pets.

Other people receive fancy potted plants for Valentines day.  Many contain flowers mixed with a variety of lilies.  Dogs usually don’t pay attention to them but cats are fanatical about green plants.  They will sit and eat grass and other vegetation.  I have no idea why.  So on this day they will nibble on the lily plant.  Lily plants are all toxic to cats and can lead to renal failure.  Pets and valentines problems can creep up on you in a second.

While the roses form the palette of a beautiful day, things that come in small packages are even sweeter than chocolate.  This means fine jewelry that can easily be swallowed by any curious dog if it is left where it can be found. Things that glitter and shine are fascinating to both dogs and cats; be it Christmas time or Valentines day.  Every veterinarian on this planet has received a call from a frantic woman that their dog just swallowed her new expensive ______ (fill in the blank).  Yes, every bowel movement must be checked for the missing jewelry.  Put all gifts away or put them on your finger or around your neck or wrist!




I was in Publix today, a southern chain of supermarkets, and I saw every other cart with a pink or red valentine balloon tied to it.   They are very festive but to a dog, very dangerous.  They are shiny and bright.  Dogs and cats will swallow the string attached to the balloon.  These are called linear foreign bodies.  The majority of linear foreign bodies need to be surgically removed from the digestive tract. Keep the balloons as far away as possible from dogs and cats.

If the man is a good chef he will probably prepare a special dinner for two without the children around.  Numerous libations will be enjoyed in a darkened room with a central, long, slender candle announcing its presence by its flickering flame.  The words to pay attention to here are flames and libations.  Most animals love alcohol if they can get a hold of it. I actually had an emergency case in Ohio years ago where some college students got a dog way too drunk. Leaving a dinner table alone with a candle burning is dangerous.  A dog can jump up and knock the candle down and in the process start a fire.  Keep all alcohol safely away from animals and do not leave a lit candle alone without adult supervision.

Pets and valentines day do not have to be disastrous.  By using common sense it can be a very happy day for both people.  This is not to mean that you should banish your pets forever.  If you want them involved in a valentines atmosphere just be sure that all the bases are covered.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

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