New This Month

5 Dangers on Valentine's Day for a Pet (And How to Prevent Them)

For instance, you might want to rethink that bouquet of roses.

cat playing with Valentine's Day candy
Photography by: Norah Levine Photography

On Valentine's Day, we celebrate the ones we love — and doesn't that include our furry friends? But according to the Pet Poison Helpline, some common Valentine's Day presents, decorations, and cards can be hazardous to our cats and dogs. You'll want to keep these things out of paws' reach!



1. Chocolate and candies


Chocolate has been a symbol of undying love for many centuries. Unfortunately, the chocolate we love so much can make cats and dogs very sick. "Even dark chocolate in a very small amount is dangerous," says Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian of Trupanion. "Leaving your chocolates around where your pet can get them is dangerous." It might be tempting to keep your box of chocolates out where you can reach them, but make sure to put them in a location that is not easily accessible to your pet. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that cats and dogs are unable to process correctly and which will, according to the RSPCA Knowledge Base, cause vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness, seizures and even death in high doses. And xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar in your pets.


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2. Flowers you have around the house


If you have cats, then do not keep any lilies around your house. "Lilies are a common flower to give on Valentine's Day," says Dr. Nold. "However, the flower is extremely toxic to cats. Just getting powder on their nose from the flower can harm them." Although lilies are beautiful flowers, cats can suffer kidney failure from having contact with them within 36-72 hours. Your cat can get sick from tasting the petals on its mouth. Other flowers to watch out for include tulips, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in both cats and dogs, and roses that have thorns. Still want the look of lilies, tulips or roses in your house? You could always consider faux flowers instead.


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3. Ribbons and decorations


While cats love playing with ribbons, a ribbon can pose a health risk if swallowed. "Ribbons can wrap around organs and cause an obstruction in the intestines," Dr. Nold says. Things like ribbon and string will bunch and loop as they move through the digestive tract. Emergency surgery would be required to save your pet because ingesting ribbon can result in a life-threatening condition. After opening your Valentine's Day gift, make sure to remove ribbon from the curious paws of your pet.


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4. Lit candles


Flame candles can result in a fire or burns if an animal knocks them over. Scented candles can also be irritating to your pet. "If a candle gets knocked over, there's potential for wax burns and starting a fire," Dr. Nold says. If you have pets, then placing candles all over the house might be a risk you won't want to take. Try using flameless candles instead or a non-toxic room fragrance to get the same effect as a houseful of scented candles.

Photography by: Sang An

5. Guests at home


Large groups of people can traumatize your furry companions. If your cats don't like strangers, consider putting your cats in a separate room during the party. Make sure that they have food, water and cat litter available. "You should make a sign to let guests know not to let the pets out," says Dr. Nold. "And if your pets are comfortable around people, remind your guests not to feed your pets any of their food."



And if you have multiple pets at home? Martha has a few personal tips: