5 Valentine’s Day Dangers for Pets

Warning: an explosion of emoji hearts is definitely headed your way.

While February’s annual expression of love is hearts and smiles for most of us, it’s generally not for our pets.

The gifts we receive most on Valentine’s Day — chocolate, flowers, stuffed animals and more — can make your furry friend seriously sick.

But don’t worry, love doesn’t have to be lost. Dr. Mark Verdino, senior vice president and chief of veterinary staff at North Shore Animal League America, shared five Valentine’s Day dangers to your pets that you need to know about right now.

So, as you prepare to elaborately fete your first crush, protect your furry bestie and pick up a pet-safe treat, giving them another reason to love you forever.

1. Keep chocolate out of reach. Verdino says chocolate ingestion is one of the most common pet toxicities. “The type of chocolate and the volume ingested determines how much is toxic,” he explains. “A large dog may ingest a few milk chocolate ‘kisses’ with little adverse effect, while a small dog ingesting a small quantity of dark chocolate may be life threatening.” He says the rule of thumb is to keep all chocolate out of reach of your furry friends and if any is accidentally ingested, contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.

2. Pick pet-safe stuffed animals. “Most child toys are not designed to be chewed and torn – such toys can tear open, releasing the ‘beans’ or stuffing – while usually not toxic, they may cause intestinal blockages which can be life threatening,” Verdino explains. “This should be kept in mind if a stuffed animal is given to your ‘non-furry’ significant other and your pet is known to steal stuff to play with themselves.”

3. Flowers can be poisonous to pets. Research what’s safe and buy bouquets accordingly. “Some flowers and plants may be toxic to pets,” he says. “This is especially true for lilies and cats. If giving flowers, please consult the poisonous plant listings and keep all plants/flowers up and out of reach of your pets.”

4. Dispose of wrapping paper/ribbon.As with other holidays, wrapping paper and ribbon can be a hazard to your pets if ingested,” Verdino explains. “Again, this tends to be more of a concern with ribbon/string and cats. If ingested these can bind up the intestines, often requiring emergency surgery to remove.”

5. Blow out the candles. Romantic? Sure. But safe when pets are around? Not so much. “Candles should never be left unattended with curious pets around,” he says. “In addition to the obvious risk of burns to pets, a curious pet may knock over a candle putting you and your home a risk.”

For more animal care tips, visit North Shore Animal League America’s website.

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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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