Keep Your Dog Safe This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is that special day when we wine and dine our significant other and celebrate our romance, which can be a lot of fun, but it can be anything but fun for your dog. That’s because every year around February 14th animal poison control and emergency veterinary hospitals all around the country see a rise in emergency cases. Many of which, involve sick dogs who ate chocolate, sweets that contain xylitol, and even some flower or plant related hazards. Unfortunately, some well meaning dog owners don’t realize a large number of Valentine’s Day human treats can be very harmful to their dog.

But I Love Chocolate

Savvy dog pet owners are aware that all types of chocolate can potentially be life-threatening to their dog. The reason behind this is twofold. First, chocolate contains Methylxanthines which are caffeine-like stimulants, and chocolate also contains theobromine, which is a vasodilator (a blood vessel widener) and a diuretic. Secondly, the higher fat levels in lighter chocolate can potentially lead to a painful and life-threatening inflammation of the dog’s pancreas, known as pancreatitis. What can happen to your dog after ingesting chocolate? Your dog can experience negative physical reactions such as, but not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, accelerated heart rate, agitation and restlessness, and even, seizures.

Not all chocolate is created equal. What do we mean by this? Well, although all chocolate can be life-threatening to your dog, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, so this means that chocolate such as baker’s chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and dark chocolates in general are the most dangerous for your dog. Also, keep in mind that treats covered in chocolate are very dangerous to your dog. For example, treats like chocolate covered, like raisins, nuts or espresso beans can be a double whammy, because not only is chocolate ingested, but also other foods that can be toxic to your dog.

This is not to say that if your dog gets a hold of an M&M or two that you need to panic, because ultimately, it’s the dose that makes the chocolate poison. For instance, ingesting milk chocolate of more than 0.5 ounces per pound of body weight may put dogs at risk. Ingesting more than 0.1 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may poison your dog. That means it takes about two pounds of milk chocolate or only 2 ounces of Baker’s chocolate to poison a 7 pound dog.

So, be proactive this Valentine’s Day, if you have dog, don’t leave your heart shaped box of chocolates sit out on the coffee table.

Gum, Mints, & Sugar Free Candies

Did you know that most candies, gum, mints and even some peanut butter that are “sugar-free” often contain xylitol, which is a sweetener that is toxic to a dog? If a food item with Xylitol is ingested by your dog, it may cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar as well as liver failure. In fact, it only takes 0.05 grams of Xylitol per pound of body weight to be potentially toxic to your dog. That means a 10 pound dog would only have to eat a one piece of gum containing Xylitol for it to be deadly. So, if you have a nosy dog who likes to do things, like rummage through your purse or counter surf, make sure you don’t have any Ice Breaker mints or Orbit gum he can get a hold of.

Flowers! For Me?

Lilies and Roses are often sold in fresh Valentine’s Day bouquets and make a beautiful gift for the intended, but did you know that if your dog decides to eat these he could get sick? It’s true.

If your dog, who’s a scavenger by nature, decides to munch on your Lilies, he will most likely encounter a belly ache. which isn't horrible, but it's not fun either. On the other hand, if your dog was a cat and ate your Lilies, he’d be in real trouble, because Lilies are flat out poisonous to cats.

If your dog is a nibbler, and will try just about anything, you should also keep flowers such as Roses out of his reach, because Roses contain thorns, which could cause punctures, and a puncture wound could lead to an infection.

Lastly, floral arrangement water usually has chemicals in it, and if your dog is eating your flowers, he might drink the vase water too, which could also lead to GI upset.

Flowers are a wonderful Valentine’s day gift, but if you have a dog, play it safe, and keep them up somewhere out of his reach.

If you have a dog, ultimately, Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be a cause for concern as long as you exercise caution about what you bring into the house and be sure to keep toxic foods, treats, and flowers away from your dog and cat too. However, if you’ve exercised caution and Fido still manages to get into you heart shaped chocolate candy box and eats all of your truffles, make sure you have Animal Poison Control’s number or your emergency vet’s number close by.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

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