Valentine’s Day is a lot of fun, but it can be anything but fun for your pets. Animal poison control and emergency vets see a huge uptick in pet health emergencies in the week leading up Valentine’s Day because many people don’t realize that a lot of the treats and holiday gifts that people give each other for Valentine’s Day can be harmful to pets.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t give chocolates, home baked goodies and other fun gifts for Valentine’s Day. It just means that you need to be a little extra cautious about what you bring into the house with pets, and keeping toxic foods and other items away from your dogs and cats on Valentine’s Day.
Here are some tips to have a pet friendly and safe Valentine’s Day.
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20 Valentine's Day Safety Tips for Pet Owners
1. Make Sure Flowers Are Pet Safe
Flower bouquets are the most popular gift that people give each other on Valentine’s Day. But getting flowers delivered to your home means that your pet could get into those flowers because you even get the bouquet.
And having fresh flowers in vases around the house is a big temptation for pets. Make sure that flower bouquets only have flowers and plants that are not toxic to pets. The ASCPCA has a great list of pet safe flowers and plants.
Avoid any bouquets that have lilies in them because lilies are toxic to cats and they can be dangerous for dogs too. When you send a bouquet to a loved one that has animals make sure that you specify to the florist that no lilies are to be included in the arrangement.
2. Keep Chocolate Out Of Reach
It's dangerous to give chocolate to your dog. Chocolate is highly toxic, so make sure that you keep all chocolate, even small chocolate treats, out of the reach of your dog. This cannot be stressed enough.
Lock up the chocolate and if you are given chocolate gifts make sure that they are put away where your dog cannot get them. Don’t leave them out on a table or put them on a shelf. Put them in the refrigerator or in another place where your dog absolutely cannot get them.
3. Avoid Giving Dogs Baked Goods Too
Baked goods can often have chocolate in them, like chocolate chip cookies. Some nuts and other ingredients in baked goods are also toxic for dogs. If you are baking treats to give to friends and family make sure that you put them away in a place where your dog can’t get them. And if you are given homemade treats and you’re not sure what is in them don’t share them with your dog.
When you are baking, ensure that you don’t leave butter on the counter to soften. Butter is very attractive to many dogs and it can cause a lot of digestive upset and diarrhea. Ask any home baker that ever had a dog run off with a stick of butter what the end result of that was and you’ll know why you should never give your dog butter.
4. Don’t Give Your Dog Valentine Treats
It should go without saying but in case it needs to be repeated, never give your dog Valentine's treats because many of them will contain chocolate. Even if it’s just a little chocolate, that can be dangerous. Even though your dog looks adorable posing with that heart shaped box of chocolates and you want to get the perfect photo to post on social media.
5. Be Careful With Cocktails
Planning on having a Valentine’s Day party with some signature cocktails? Make sure that you keep the liquor capped and locked up or on a high shelf where your dog can’t get at it, because it's toxic to dogs. And when you and your friends are celebrating, watching movies, or eating dinner supervise that people don’t leave half filled cups of alcohol around the house. Dogs will get into them and drink them and can become very sick as a result.
6. Avoid Xylitol
Chocolate isn’t the only toxic food substance that dogs ingest during Valentine’s Day. Sugar free candy and baked goods are often made with Xylitol – an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can cause liver failure and death. It is lethal. So don’t think that because a treat doesn’t have chocolate that it’s safe to give your dog. Read the label and make sure it has no Xylitol.
7. Watch Out For Thorns
Roses are beautiful, but the thorns can pierce paws and become stuck. Put roses in a vase and keep them away from dogs. Trim flowers carefully and throw the clippings away outside in a trash can so that your dog doesn’t end up with a thorn in the paw.
8. Be Careful With Candles
Candles are romantic, but they are dangerous around pets. If you want to use candles to create a romantic mood try flameless candles to make sure that your pet doesn’t get burned or knock over the candles and start a fire.
9. Wrap Up The Wrappings
Ribbons can be deadly if your dog eats them. So can wrapping paper and tape. When you’re wrapping gifts wrap them quickly and store all the wrappings in a container that your dog can’t get into. If you’re unwrapping gifts throw away the ribbon and wrappings in a trash can with a closed lid or put them immediately into a garbage bag and throw them away.
10. Don’t Give Live Animals As Gifts
Chicks, rabbits and other animals are not meant to be gifts. Neither are puppies or kittens. Don’t give live animals for Valentine’s Day as presents to your loved ones.
11. Prep Your Pet First Aid Kit
When was the last time you updated your pet first aid kit? Now is the perfect time to make sure that the kit is complete in case there is a Valentine’s Day emergency involving your pet.
12. Keep Poison Control’s Number Close By
Because there are so many potentially toxic things that are given as gifts or used during the celebration of Valentine’s Day make sure that you have the number for Animal Poison Control programmed into your phone and taped up on the wall near your home phone.
Pet Poison Control – (888) 426-4435.
13. Watch Out For Pain Relievers
When you are dealing with a hangover or suffering from over-indulging the day after Valentine’s Day make sure that pain relievers and other medications are out of the reach of your pet.
14. Buy Pet-Safe Valentine Treats
If you want to give your pet a Valentine treat the best thing you can do is make your own to be sure they are not toxic. But if you really want to buy a cute treat in a holiday themed box check the ingredients list very carefully. If you can look for a treat that is labeled pet safe. If you have any doubts about the ingredients don’t give it to your pet.
15. Skip The Balloons
Balloons are loud when they pop and can actually hurt a dog’s sensitive ears. And popped balloons can be eaten by dogs and cause some serious digestive track problems. Skip the balloons on gifts or as part of your party decorations.
16. Put Stuffed Animals Up High
Stuffed animals are highly attractive to dogs, but they are often not made to withstand a dog’s playing with them. The stuffing can be toxic and cause health problems if a dog rips open the toy and eats the stuffing. So if you are given stuffed animals put them up high on a shelf where the dog won’t be able to get them. Don’t leave them out on the couch or on the bed.
17. Don’t Use Diffusers
Diffusers are a popular way to make your home smell good, but many of the essential oils that are used in diffusers are highly toxic to dogs. If you want to create a romantic atmosphere and make the house smell great try incense or a room spray instead of using a diffuser with essential oils.
18. Dog Proof The House
If you’re having a Valentine’s Day party or making a special dinner for a loved one, make sure that the house is dog-proofed. Put away all cooking supplies and ingredients, don’t leave them out. Make sure that potentially toxic plants, flowers, and foods are all stored safely away from your dog. Clean up after the meal immediately so that your dog won’t have a chance to get into any leftovers.
19. Skip The Doggie Bag
If you go out for a special Valentine’s Day dinner you might think it’s a nice gesture to bring your dog some of your steak or fancy dinner. Don’t. You don’t know what ingredients and spices have been used in any sauces or other parts of the dinner and you shouldn’t take a chance giving foods you don’t know to your dog. If you want to bring your dog a treat order a plain steak with no sauce and no sides or a plain hamburger and bring that to your dog.
20. Know Where The Closest Emergency Vet Is
Even though you might do everything right your dog could still end up getting sick. It’s a smart idea to know where the closest emergency vet is and program the name and address of the facility into your phone in case you have a dog health emergency on Valentine’s Day.
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