When spending Valentine’s Day with your furry companion this year, remember that some love tokens can harm pets!
Pet adoptions have hit all-time highs. According to the Humane Society of the United States, many of these adoptions are by first-time pet parents seeking companionship to try to cope with the loneliness and isolation caused by “stay at home orders” associated with the pandemic. It’s a good time to bone up on your ‘Pet Health IQ’ to help ensure this Valentine’s Day is as joyous for your fur babes as it is for you!
No sweets for your sweets!
Candy is dandy but not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms, including baker’s, semisweet, milk and dark, and even chocolate-covered candy, can be quite dangerous for dogs and cats. Tinfoil and cellophane candy wrappers can also be hazardous if swallowed.
Anytime you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially toxic item contact your veterinarian, the local Pet ER, and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
Avoid other toxic substances
Other popular foods and treats to avoid this Valentine’s Day include Tobacco which can lead to fatal nicotine poisoning, and coffee due to its caffeine content. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and cats, as are grapes and raisins. Note that eating even a few grapes can lead to kidney failure in animals.
Steer clear of “sugar-free” foods containing xylitol and be sure to keep alcohol out of your pet’s reach.
If the festivities involve baking cookies, don’t let your furry friends scarf down any raw yeast dough. The dough rises inside their stomach causing painful bloat, and alcohol is released as it breaks down.
Reduce stress — naturally
Spending some extra time with your pets, taking your dog out for a nice long walk or a game of frisbee, as well as keeping meals, snacks, and routines as close to normal as possible helps to minimize stress and prevent behavioral issues on holidays. In addition, proper identification and well-fitting collars help prevent losing pets.
The herbal stress remedy, Bach’s Rescue Remedy, is safe and effective for dogs and cats. Place a few drops in your pet’s mouth, food, or water bowl to help relieve stress and anxiety. Essential oils such as combinations of chamomile and blue cypress applied topically are also safe and effective to calm anxious pets. Be sure they are specifically formulated for your dog and/or cat.
TIP: Avoid giving pets as gifts, especially over the holidays.
Be wary of plants
Popular plants and flowers including lilies and tulips can cause stomach, intestinal, and kidney damage if consumed by your dog or cat. It is noteworthy that when it comes to dogs, holiday foods and snacks are the main culprit for health risks, but for cats it’s plants.
Lilies are lovely but many varieties including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. Beware of roses and other thorny houseplants as the thorns easily perforate tongues, tummies, and footpads especially in curious cats. Orchids, sunflowers, and Gerber daisies are attractive and far safer for your furry valentine.
TIP: Consider safe alternatives such as artificial arrangements made from silk.
Pet-proof your romantic activities
Electric cords, wires, and extension cords are popular chew toys, especially for puppies. Hide them in an empty wrapping paper tube, cover them with cute foil, and/or tape them to your floor. Buy pet-proof extension cords. Pet parents can also spray cords with bitter apple to deter pets from chewing them, avoid burning their mouths, and perhaps getting an electric shock.
Elevate candles and potpourri oils up high out of paw reach. Cats have an affinity for potpourri oils while candles seem to entice puppies. Wagging tails can easily knock over candles, burn your pet or worse – start a fire.
Be sure to give your pets a little extra attention this Valentine’s Day so they don’t feel like they’ve been forgotten. Take Fido out for an extra walk and/or enjoy creative playtime together with a variety of safe pet toys. Get your pet involved in the gift giving this season by donating pet food, litter or toys to your local shelter or favorite charity in your pet’s name.
Be prepared to keep your pet safe this Valentine’s Day and remember the best gift of all is your love!
Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne is a Board-Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, and has pioneered the exploration of new therapies for the treatment and prevention of age-related degenerative disease, as well as optimum health and performance for pets. She created and patented PAAWS (Pet Anti-Aging Wellness System) and authored Naturally Healthy Dogs and Naturally Healthy Cats. An Emmy-nominated television journalist, she has made frequent appearances on Good Day L.A., Discovery's Animal Planet and more. She operates the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Ohio (chagrinfallspetclinic.com, 440-247-5901 or firstname.lastname@example.org).