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Veterinarians warn of hidden Valentine's Day dangers for pets

While the dangers chocolate and flowers can pose are well known, there are other risks pet owners should know about.
Veterinarians warn of hidden Valentine's Day dangers for pets
Posted at 9:16 AM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 11:16:18-05

With Valentine's Day coming up, there is a good chance you have items in your home that are dangerous for pets. 

The American Animal Hospital Association is warning pet owners about the risk popular Valentine's Day gifts such as flowers and chocolate have on pets, especially dogs. The group says there is a rise in call volume to the Pet Poison Hotline around Valentine's Day each year. 

The AAHA says chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, which is dangerous for cats and dogs. Darker and more bitter chocolates tend to contain more of this chemical. 

Pet owners also need to be extra wary of items dipped in chocolate, including raisins, espresso beans and macadamia nuts.

The group also warned about lilies that are often contained in Valentine Day's flower bouquets. While lilies generally aren't toxic to dogs, the petals, leaves and pollen contain a toxin that can cause acute kidney failure in cats. The group says the danger lilies pose depends on the type of lilies, as some may just cause an upset stomach. 

The AAHA said potentially dangerous lilies include the Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, other Asiatic lilies, and some species of daylilies.

While the dangers of chocolate and flowers are widely known among pet owners, the AAHA says there are other household risks you might forget about. Items such as essential oils, massage oils and scented candles can be dangerous for dogs. 

“In concentrated forms, depending on the type of essential oil, they can cause ulcerations and burns to the mouth and the esophagus,” veterinarian Renee Schmid told the AAHA's publication Newstat.

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Another potential hazard comes from home-cooked meals. Items such as garlic and onion can pose a danger to pets. This is especially true for garlic and onion powders, which are more concentrated than fresh products. 

“Both (garlic and onion) can cause hemolytic anemia, and lead to the destruction of red blood cells," Schmid said. 

The AAHA also warned that Viagra is toxic for dogs and cats. The group says users of the drug should keep track of pills to ensure a pet doesn't swallow one. 

“It can cause some significant changes in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as heart rhythm issues," Schmid said.

While Valentine's Day marks a busy time for pet poison hotlines, the busiest time of year is around Christmas, the AAHA said.


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