Valentine’s Day Hazards

Written by Dr. Robert Heidecker

Tips To Keep Your Pet Safe – We Love Your Pet Too

Valentine’s Day can present many dangers for pets with certain foods, flowers and other items that need to be kept out of paws’ reach. Don’t leave these goodies out for your pets to get into. Poison control experts see many cases per year and especially see a rise in certain cases of poisonous plants and food items being ingested around Valentine’s Day each year. Many of these cases involve certain flowers such as lilies (that can be potentially fatal to cats) and chocolates.

Below is a list of things to make sure you keep out of your pet’s reach over Valentine’s Day or any time throughout the year:


Baker’s, semi-sweet, milk and dark chocolate. Dark chocolates are the worst and can affect gastrointestinal, neurological and cardiac function with pets that ingest these chocolates presenting with vomiting/diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormally elevated heart rate, and seizures. The lighter chocolates can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).While it is okay for us humans to indulge a bit on Valentine’s Day, please keep ALL chocolates out of the reach of your pet’s paws.


Do not let pets near food items sweetened with xylitol. Gum, candies and other foods that are sweetened with this ingredient can cause a pet to have hypoglycemia, or a sudden drop in their blood sugar. This can cause your pet to experience depression, seizures, or loss of coordination.


Animals can suffer severe adverse reactions from ingesting even small amounts of alcohol. Keep alcohol and alcoholic beverages away from pets and be sure to clean up spills of alcoholic beverages before your pet has the chance to lap it up. If a pet does ingest alcohol or alcohol-containing beverages the symptoms could include: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances, and even coma. Respiratory failure could also occur if enough alcohol is ingested.

Thorny Plants

Roses or plants that have thorny or sharp stems can cause punctures or tears to your pets mouth, muzzle, tongue, face, throat, esophagus, etc. if bitten or chewed/swallowed. Keep all thorny plants up high and out of your pet’s reach or de-thorn/stem these plants to avoid a potential injury or trip to the vet.


All species of the lily are potentially fatal to cats. Be sure when ordering a bouquet that you specify no lily’s if the recipient is a cat owner. If you receive a bouquet of flowers, make sure you go through the flowers and remove all dangerous plants or flora. If you notice your pet is displaying symptoms of stomach upset, vomiting/diarrhea, etc. he may have ingested one of these dangerous plants. You can use online toxic and non-toxic plant libraries to identify what should and should not be in your bouquets. As always, call your veterinarian immediately should you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic plant material.

Candles and fire

Candles are certainly romantic and can “set the mood” but our pets do not understand this. It is best to keep candles up high and out of reach of inquisitive pets. Many companies are making very good flameless candles and tea light candles that are much safer and can help us avoid unnecessary injuries to our curious four-legged friends. Pets can burn their very sensitive noses and whiskers by investigating a flickering flame and cats have unintentionally knocked candles over setting fire to both their tails and household items or even people’s homes. Please be very, very careful and use extreme caution when lighting candles when your pets are around.

Ribbons/Wrapping Goods

Keep tapes, ribbons, bows, wrapping papers, balloons, cellophane goods, etc. out of reach of your pets. These items are fun for your pet to chew or eat and can cause serious problems for your pet, sometimes even life-threatening. String or ribbon can get twisted in your pet’s digestive tract and cause an obstruction, in which you pet could need life-saving surgery. Other wrapping goods can get lodged in your pet’s throat causing them to choke or vomit.

**As always, consult our office or your personal veterinarian immediately should you feel that your pet has ingested any of the above listed items. A phone call only takes a moment and it can never hurt to be sure when it comes to the life and well-being of your pet! A happy, healthy, SAFE pet is the best kind of pet to have!     That is what we at GHAH are here for!!!!!     (717)766-5535.