According to pet medical insurance company Trupanion, Valentine’s Day is more than just the most romantic holiday of the year. From accessories, chocolates, jewelry, flowers, to, yes, undergarments, pets will likely enjoy your Valentine’s gifts and treats just as much as you do, but with some potentially serious health consequences.
Be careful with the candy…
From those pastel-colored conversation hearts, to heart-shaped gummies, to red-and-pink jellybeans, Valentine’s Day is often all about the candy. But keep Fido and Fluffy at a distance while you enjoy these sweet treats. Many varieties of sugar-free gum and sugar-free candy contain a sugar substitute compound called xylitol, a polyalcohol compound that can be toxic to your dog.
While xylitol is generally safe for human consumption, in dogs it can affect insulin levels and cause blood sugar levels to decrease sharply. In some cases, xylitol can even cause liver failure, seizures, and even death.
…but especially chocolate candy
Chocolate is packed with high amounts of fat, and even worse for Fido, caffeine and methylxanthines like theobromine — a stimulant that can be dangerous to dogs when eaten. These stimulants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, an accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, tremors, high blood pressure, and even seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest.
Typically, the darker the chocolate and the more bitter the chocolate the more dangerous the candy will be to your four-legged friend. And the smaller the dog, the less chocolate it will take to cause some serious health issues.
In February 2013, Trupanion received 35 claims related to chocolate ingestion and toxicity. In one Valentine’s Day case, a Labrador Retriever from British Columbia ate a whopping 2 pounds of fudge and milk chocolate suckers — enough sugar to irritate a stomach ulcer and put the chocolate-loving Lab in danger. Her owners rushed her to the veterinarian, and Trupanion shelled out $3,696.20 to cover the cost of diagnosis and treatments.
Today, before you head out for your romantic Valentine’s Day dates, take a second to look at the petMD Chocolate Toxicity Meter, which breaks down the theobromine and caffeine levels in a handful of common candies and other chocolate products you might have lying around the house this Valentine’s Day.
Avoid sending poisonous blooms and toxic plants to pet owners
Is your special Valentine also a cat owner? If so then the best way to say, “I love you” is to send only pet-safe bouquets that contain absolutely no plants of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species — that means no lilies.
Whether Tiger, Asiatic, Easter, Day, or Japanese Snow Lily, eating just 1 or 2 leaves, petals, or even enough pollen in any of these and other lily varieties can result in rapid kidney failure in felines. Peace lilies, Peruvian lilies, and Calla lilies, while not necessarily causing kidney distress, can cause severe irritation to the tissues of a cat’s mouth and throat. While the exact toxic compound is unknown, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, the toxin is water soluble and found in all parts of the lily plant, from the stem to the petals, from the leaves to the bulb.
Signs of lily poisoning include vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, excessive thirst or, conversely, not drinking, or a change in urination levels — usually urinating too frequently or not urinating at all.
While there is no cure for lily poisoning, it is vital that cats receive veterinary treatment as soon as possible after ingesting any amount of this beautiful but potentially deadly plant. Cats will need close monitoring, IV fluids, and other supportive treatments in order to improve chances of survival.
And roses might be beautiful, but those thorns can sure be sharp. Dogs or cats who ingest this Valentine’s Day favorite can end up with serious abrasions and punctures of the mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines, resulting in infection.
Luckily for one Trupanion client whose German Shepherd managed not only to eat her Valentine’s Day rose bouquet but the vase the roses came in, her dog was okay, but it’s best to keep all flower arrangements out of reach.
Pets will love your sparkly gifts, too — to munch on
You might think no one could be as excited as you are to receive a necklace, a pair of earrings, or even a ring this Valentine’s Day. But your dog could be eyeing that shiny bauble with much different intentions, thinking it might be as delicious as it is beautiful.
In February 14, 2013,Trupanion paid out a $1,077.66 claim after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from North Carolina swallowed his owner’s pearl earring. An Old English Sheepdog required an x-ray and endoscopy after she ate her owner’s earrings, treatment with a $1,350.72 price tag.
And a simple Internet search yields thousands of stories of dogs eating engagement and wedding rings, complete with x-ray images of dog stomachs with diamond rings inside.
To avoid that hassle and potential expensive surgeries to remove pieces of jewelry that don’t pass naturally, it’s best to keep that new sparkler safely away from Fido’s drooly chompers. But accidents do happen. If you suspect your pooch has swallowed a piece of jewelry, contact your veterinarian.
Undergarments and unmentionables become edibles to dogs
It might sound silly, and it may be embarrassing to talk about, but many dog owners know this from experience — dogs love to chew on undergarments.
In fact, Trupanion reveals that one of the top items ingested by dogs on Valentine’s Day 2013 was underwear. The company paid $1,111.06 towards an x-ray and exploratory surgery after a Washington woman’s Pomeranian–Poodle mix ingested some of her unmentionables. Sure enough, the veterinarian discovered the pint-sized pup had consumed a pair of medium-sized ladies underwear.
When you’re not wearing it this Valentine’s Day, keep your lingerie on lockdown, your panties in the hamper, and your drawers in your, well, drawers.