We all love getting spoiled on Valentine’s Day! And while chocolates and flowers make perfect gifts for humans, not all of these romantic presents are safe to have around our pets.


Chocolate is for humans

Whenever we ask clients if they know what foods are toxic to animals, chocolate is always the first to come to mind. But many don’t know why this delicious treat is so potentially harmful.

Chocolate contains cocoa, and cocoa contains a compound called theobromine. Theobromine is toxic to dogs (and other animals) at certain doses as they are unable to metabolise it as quickly as us. The concentration of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate, but as a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine levels. For example, cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate.

The toxicity of theobromine is dose-related, meaning that the overall effect depends on the animal’s size, the amount of chocolate eaten, and the type of chocolate.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity may include: restlessness, excitement, hyperactivity, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased drinking/urination, increased heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and even death.

Make sure to keep all chocolate at a safe distance from your pet. If your pet ingests any chocolate products, contact your vet immediately for the best course of action


Not all flowers are safe

Lilies are a popular choice of flower for Valentine’s bouquets as they are bold, beautiful, and fragrant… but unfortunately they are also extremely toxic, especially to cats.

The lilies of greatest concern are any from the family Lilium sp., which includes Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies, and any from the family Hemerocallis sp., which includes day lilies.

The most toxic thing is the flower itself, but all parts of this plant are potentially fatal. Cats can develop kidney failure after ingesting even the tiniest portion of this plant (or even the water they’re kept in). The gastrointestinal and nervous systems may also be affected. Contact your vet immediately if you think your cat has chewed on or eaten some lilies.

It is also important to keep in mind that animals can be affected by the pollen of any flower, just like humans. It may potentially irritate your pet’s skin and eyes if they come in to direct contact.


Not so sweet

A common ingredient in sugar-free lollies and soft drinks is xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is extremely toxic to dogs. Make sure to store any sweets in a safe place that adventurous pets can’t get to!


Don’t spill the champagne!

Australians like to celebrate special occasions with a glass (or few) of their favourite alcoholic beverage, however be careful of leaving drinks or open bottles lying around where your pets could reach them. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and a lack of coordination. If by chance your pet does consume alcohol, contact your vet immediately.


Unwrapping the presents 

Many of us like to give and receive gifts as a sign of love and affection. Once you’ve finished unwrapping your gifts, however, be sure to dispose of any ribbons and paper securely. Lots of animals (especially cats) love to chew and swallow these fascinating objects because of the smell, texture, and crinkly sound they make. If ingested, ribbons can become lodged in your pet’s throat and/or intestinal tract, causing blockages and necrosis (death) of the surrounding tissue.


Valentine’s Day means different things to different people, but however you choose to celebrate (and with whom), don’t forget that our pets deserve love and attention today too.


Happy Valentine’s Day, from all of the team at Pet Doctor ♥