Tips for a Pet-Safe Valentine’s Day

Certain sweets and flowers could be harmful to your dog’s health.

Posted: February 13, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, sweethearts everywhere are searching far and wide for that perfect gift to give to loved ones during this romance-filled time of year — roses, chocolates and candy, a candle-lit dinner with wine.

But some traditional Valentine’s Day gift and celebration ideas should come with a warning for furry companions.

Chocolate, a popular gift around this time of year, can be dangerous to pets. A ten-pound dog can suffer vomiting and/or diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, and an abnormally elevated heart rate from just two ounces of baking chocolate or 20 ounces of milk chocolate, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Many a curious pet has explored an alcoholic beverage left in a glass, but if ingested, alcohol could cause vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and coma in dogs. It can even cause death from respiratory failure if a large enough amount is ingested.

Another potential hazard is gum or candy sweetened with the sugar substitute xylitol, which can cause a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia. This can result in depression, loss of coordination, and seizures, according to the poison control center.

Many varieties of lilies are highly toxic to cats, so if these are your Valentine’s flower of choice, make sure your cats can’t get near them. Other potentially poisonous flowers may include tulips, daisies, chrysanthemums and baby’s breath. Safer alternatives include African violets, asters, jasmine and orchids.

Pet owners are urged to take caution with roses and other flowers containing thorns, which could be harmful to pets if played with, bitten, stepped on, or swallowed.

“It’s all too easy for pets to step on thorny stems that fall to the ground as a flower arrangement is being created. They can develop serious infections from thorn punctures,” said Louise Murray, Director of Medicine for the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.

Candlelit dinners can be romantic, but don’t leave the room while the flames are still burning. Also, make sure to keep balloons, cellophane, tape, ribbons, bows and other wrapping items or festive decorations out of a pet’s reach.

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