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Valentine’s Day, the day of love we share with that special someone in our life. Also a day that can bring additional hazards into your home that could harm your pet. A delicious box of assorted chocolates, a beautiful vase of your favorite flowers and a bottle of wine are normal things associated with Valentine’s Day. But each has a toxic and harmful effect on your cat or dog. PetFirst takes a look at some valentine safety for pets.
The heart-shaped box of chocolates left on the coffee table is tempting for everyone. And what is a tasty treat for humans is a toxic-temptation for dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two chemicals that are toxic to our pets. If ingested, this combination can lead to heart damage and central nervous system damage. The size of your pet and the amount ingested are factors when determining the course of treatment for your fur-friend.
Sugar-free treats containing xylitol pose an even bigger threat for pets. Xylitol is a commonly used sugar substitute in sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods and breath mints. This chemical addition to sweet treats can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar as well as liver failure in dogs. Your pet can show signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10 to 15 minutes after ingestion. The signs are very similar to a human who is suffering from low blood sugar and include vomiting, walking drunk, weakness, collapsing and even seizures.
Flowers make a beautiful addition to your home any time of year, especially Valentine’s Day. Roses, being the most popular Valentine’s Day flower, are a hazard to our pets for two reasons. First the petals if ingested can cause upset stomach, vomiting and nausea in our pets. Second are those prickly thorns on the rose stem, which can cause trauma to the mouth and paws. If you notice your pet drooling or pawing at their mouth, they may have ingested a thorn and injured their mouth. If your pet has ingested several thorns, it could cause a bowel obstruction causing abdominal pain or discomfort.
Lilies are gaining popularity as a gift-giving flower around Valentine’s Day. They are beautiful and release a fragrance second to none. However, every part of the lily is a danger to your pet including petals, leaves, pollen and the water they sit in. The most dangerous lilies include the Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, other Asiatic lilies, and some species of day lilies. This flower is considered more dangerous for cats. The ingestion of just one or two leaves or petals can cause sudden kidney failure, and just a small amount of pollen ingested from the cat’s fur is considered poisonous. Within a few hours of exposure you may notice your cat is drooling, is lethargic and doesn’t want to eat. These signs progress to increased thirst and urination and severe kidney failure. Without treatment, lily poisoning is fatal in cats.
A glass of wine or your favorite ale are great things to share with your special someone on Valentine’s Day, but do not share them with your pet. Even a small amount of alcohol is poisonous to pets. Be sure to keep all bottles, cans, and glasses out of reach of pets. And if you are finished with the beverage for the evening, go ahead and pour out the remaining contents, or seal them with lids to prevent curious animals from helping themselves.
So what do you do if your pet does ingest any of these toxic-temptations? Contact your vet immediately with the details. If you can estimate how much was ingested and in what timeframe, that will help your vet better assess the situation over the phone. If you vet doesn’t offer after hours service, take your pet to the nearest emergency animal hospital for treatment.
Always have your veterinarian’s phone number close by just in case your pet becomes ill. It is also a good idea to have the number to your local 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital for treatment recommendations and the number to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435).
Pet insurance protects both you and your pet in these very situations – the accidents and illnesses that happen unexpectedly. Consider protecting your pet against these and other hazards by investing in a pet insurance plan with PetFirst. Pet health insurance allows you to be reimbursed for vet expenses for common illnesses including many of the toxic-temptations associated with Valentine’s Day. Love your pet even more with a policy from PetFirst. To customize a plan for your pet and to get a quote on pet insurance, click here.