There's nothing wrong with involving your pets in this year's Valentine's Day celebrations, but a lot of traditional Valentine's Day items need to be kept out of paws' reach. Your beloved fur babies can enjoy the holiday, as long as you follow these Valentine's Day pet safety tips.
1. Check the bouquet.
Sending a loved one a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's Day is common, but you may want to stick to just roses this year if the receiver has cats. While lilies are a popular choice, they're extremely toxic to cats. "Asiatic, Easter, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, tiger, Western, and wood lilies (Lilium species) and daylilies (Hemerocallis species)" are the most dangerous lili varieties to felines, according to the Pet Poison Hotline. A lack of desire to eat, diarrhea, dehydration, depression or lethargy, hiding, and an increase or decrease in urination are indications that your poor kitty may have accidentally ingested some part of your lilies. Cats who nibble on even one or two petals (or even drink water from the vase) can experience kidney failure and would need immediate medical attention.
While roses are a safer bet, you should clip the thorns to prevent any cuts from your cat rubbing up against them. Instead, opt for a cat-safe plant, like a Christmas cactus or a spice orchid. Better yet, why not ditch the flowers entirely this year and start a new Valentine's Day tradition.
2. Find a hiding place for the chocolate.
Hiding chocolate not only ensures that you won't do something regrettable when you have a midnight sugar craving, but it will also prevent your pets from accidentally chowing down on a candy bar. Most pet owners know that chocolate is a big no-no, but we can't emphasize this enough given how easy it is to find chocolate around Valentine's Day.
Chocolate is poisonous to dogs in particular because it contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that cause an increase in heart rate and nervous system disorders like tremors and seizures. Other common symptoms of chocolate poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, increased or abnormal heart rate, restlessness, increased urination, and sometimes death. The severity of these symptoms typically depends on how much chocolate a dog has ingested and how big the dog is, so you shouldn't immediately panic if you notice chocolate wrappers on the floor.
3. Go easy on the cocktails.
We're all for indulging in a glass of wine or a fruity cocktail on Valentine's Day — but don't leave alcohol lying around where your pets could drink it. Because dogs and cats are smaller than humans, just a few laps of your drink can depress their central nervous system, leading to drowsiness and loss of coordination — similar to humans who are drunk. In rare cases, pets who consume alcohol can experience metabolic acidosis, which is a dangerous medical condition where the blood becomes too acidic. If this goes untreated, your poor pet can go into cardiac arrest.
Similar to chocolate, the type of alcohol consumed plays a role in the severity of your pet's symptoms. Beer and cider typically have a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) level and will do less damage. Wine is next in terms of ABV, followed by hard liquor, which is most dangerous to pets and can cause the most internal damage if consumed.
4. And maybe ditch the candy entirely.
The news that there will be no candy hearts this Valentine's Day may be depressing enough to get you to ditch the candy entirely — and that's good news for your pets. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener in many candies, can cause depression, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), loss of coordination, and even seizures.
Of course, you don't have to ditch the sweets entirely this Valentine's Day. Instead, why not opt for healthier treats?
5. Save the candlelit dinners for the movies.
Who among us hasn't dreamed of a candlelit dinner with the husband for Valentine's Day? While this is certainly a romantic idea, it can create a fire hazard not only for you, but also for your pets. If you're determined to make this fantasy a reality, lock your cat or dog in a bedroom or bathroom so they can't accidentally knock over any candles.
6. Forgo the frilly wrapping paper and bows.
Go the more eco-friendly route this Valentine's Day by declining to wrap your gifts. Not only will this save you money, but it will also ensure your cats or dogs don't accidentally choke on wrapping paper, balloons, ribbons, or bows. Plus, it means less of a mess for you to clean at the end of a romantic night.