Valentine’s Day… a time of love letters, boxes of chocolate, giant teddy bears, and… a sick pet?! It only takes one moment to turn a great day into a disaster, but we’d like to help you avoid that altogether with some quick and easy to remember Valentine’s Day Pet Safety Tips! While you’re celebrating with your better half and showing them how much you care, make sure to show your pets how much you care for them, too. Follow these easy tips and tricks to make sure everyone feels the love this Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate is a year round hazard to pets, but on Valentine’s Day there always seems to be a lot more of it floating around. While sweet and delicious to us, chocolate contains stimulants called methylxanthines that, if ingested by your pets, will negatively affect their neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiac function by causing vomiting, hyperactivity, seizures, diarrhea, and an atypically increased heart rate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are higher in fats which can lead to life-threatening pancreas inflammation, while dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate have some of the highest levels of methylxanthines because of the high cacao percentage.
Don’t Break my Candy Heart
If you’re planning on getting your loved one gum, candies, or other sweet treats, make sure that they stay far from the reach of your pets! Candy is never recommended for consumption by our four-legged friends, but it is especially an issue when those sweets contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is very dangerous and potentially fatal to pets. If ingested, xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar), which can cause your pet to suffer from seizures, depression, and loss of coordination.
Flowers Aren’t a Cat’s Best Friend
Flowers and bouquets of all sorts are everywhere during Valentine’s Day. While not all flowers are toxic to pets, Lilies in particular are toxic to cats. They can cause kidney failure, lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you are unsure of what flowers are toxic or non-toxic- reference this handy ASPCA plant guide. Another flower that should be mentioned is the Rose. The flower itself isn’t toxic, but the spiny thorns pose a big threat. If ingested, bitten, or stepped on they can cause major infections if they break the skin.
You Got Me a What?!
Much like on Christmas, birthdays, and other gift-giving occasions, Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect day to surprise your loved one with that dog or cat they’ve always wanted. This can be an amazing experience- for the animal and your loved one, but make sure you are both prepared for what the idea of owning a pet means. Animals are a lifelong commitment that take time, patience, money, and attention. If you do decide to get a pet for someone, drop some subtle hints beforehand and make sure that they would be fully prepared and capable of taking care of a pet. An alternative to the “surprise, take care of this animal!” is to find out if your local shelter offers gift certificates; then you can go with your better half to the shelter and pick out a pet together!
- If you’re getting cozy by the fireplace, make sure your pet is cozy away from any flames!
- After you’re done opening gifts, make sure you properly dispose of all bows, wrapping
paper, ribbons, balloons and tape. Fun to look at, but not fun to ingest!
Extra: Show animals how much you love them, too!
- Visit a local shelter and spread the love by volunteering.
- Give your furry friend some pet-safe treats and toys:
Boarding Assistant & Social Media Coordinator
Some pet owners rely on the presumption that what is safe for humans to ingest is also safe for their pets, however that’s just not always true. Xylitol, a substance found in many everyday products is safe for human consumption, but it can be harmful and potentially life-threatening to dogs.
Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener commonly used in sugar-free gum and candies, toothpaste, chewable vitamins, baked goods and even peanut butter. The compound doesn’t affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge in insulin. In as little as 15 minutes it can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar (insulin shock/hypoglycemia), seizures, and severe liver damage. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. These symptoms can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion, and require immediate veterinary treatment. Just three grams of xylitol, or 6 pieces of xylitol containing gum, can kill a 65-pound dog.
Common Products Containing Xylitol
Here are a few of the more popular brands that contain xylitol…
- Nuts ’N More
- Krush Nutrition
- Spry Mints
- Spry Chewing Gum
- Xlear Nasal Spray
- Nicorette Gum
- Xylichew Gum
Treatment for Xylitol Poisoning
If you suspect your dog has ingested a product containing Xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately; The amount of Xylitol ingestion is often difficult to determine because the level of sweetener varies greatly by manufacturer and product. Treatment typically consists of induced vomiting, 24-hour hospitalization, and administration of IV fluids containing glucose to stabilize blood sugar levels. Liver levels are also monitored and tested every few hours until they have normalized.
Prevention is Key
The number of products containing Xylitol has been growing steadily over the years and so has the number of reported cases of animal poisonings. You may be watching your diet by eating Xylitol sweetened products, but you should also be watching your dog to ensure that they don’t ingest any Xylitol containing products. Make sure to check your food’s labels and keep Xylitol containing products where dogs can’t access them.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Contributed by: Zach Buchanan, Veterinary Assistant (pictured with his pug Katie)
For most of us, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season… a
time filled with family, friends, and lots of food. While we enjoy this special time of year, we need to pay special attention to make sure our non-human family members stay safe. Some often over looked hazards are actually very easily preventable just by remembering that it’s best to keep your pet’s diet as normal as possible- no matter how tempting it is to share! The following are a few of the ASPCA’s Thanksgiving safety tips to help keep our pets happy and healthy while we feast:
Talkin’ Turkey: If you decide to feed your pet a small bite of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer them raw or undercooked turkey which could contain salmonella bacteria. Do not give your pet the left over carcass either–the bones can be problematic for the digestive tract.
No Bread Dough: Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving them access to raw yeast bread dough. When a dog or cat ingests raw bread dough, the yeast continues to convert the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. This can result in bloated drunken pets, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring hospitalization.
Don’t Let Them Eat Cake: If you plan to make Thanksgiving desserts, be sure that your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.
A Feast Fit for a King: While your family enjoys a special meal, give your cat and dog a small feast of their own. Offer them some made-for-pets chew bones or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey (cooked and boneless), vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a food puzzle toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.
Making sure you pet doesn’t get access to anything unhealthy from the table is important, but don’t forget about your trash! Sometimes our pets figure out that the best way to get what they want is to get it themselves… straight from the trashcan! If you know you have a trash-curious pet, make sure you keep your bin behind closed doors, or tightly sealed at all times to prevent an unwanted trip to the emergency room. Some of the most hazardous Thanksgiving items often found in the trash (and hopefully not your pet) include: the yummy string that goes around the turkey legs, discarded skin & bones, and fatty grizzle. The potential problems caused by “garbage gut” include gastroenteritis (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), Pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas), a gastrointestinal obstruction, or even tremors or seizures.
We all want the best for our pets, and ensuring their health and safety this Thanksgiving will give us something to be thankful for all year long. For more information and helpful tips from the ASPCA, visit Thanksgiving Safety Tips.
For additional resources visit:
Thanksgiving Safety Tips:
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Blog written by:
Lindsey Vance, Client Care Specialist with her dog Hazel