AllPets_iStock_000032185210_MediumFor a holiday that’s all about love, Valentine’s Day can also be about inadvertently exposing your pet to dangerous chemical compounds. Not at all romantic or dreamy, a pet poisoning can have dire consequences. But if you remain vigilant and invite your pet to play or snuggle (instead of check out your candy stash), the love fest can stay on schedule.

Common Culprit

Already fully stocked on shelves across America, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates present the most significant risk to your pet. Your pet is probably curious about anything you bring through the front door, but a red or pink, shiny box is even more enticing.

Chocolate’s Toxicity

Chocolate not only contains dangerous levels of caffeine, but a compound known as theobromine, as well. Various types of chocolate have different amounts of both, but dark, cocoa powder, or baking chocolate having the highest levels. Your pet’s weight and the amount of chocolate eaten will determine the course of pet poisoning. For example, a puppy or kitten may have different symptoms from an adult or senior pet.

It’s best to contact us immediately if you suspect a pet poisoning, as your pet may require life-saving emergency care.

Red Flags And Symptoms

Each pet poisoning is unique to the pet’s age, size, weight, and age. The following symptoms should never be ignored:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Drooling excessively
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased respiration
  • Shaking
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Unconsciousness

Xylitol and Pet Poisoning

While chocolate poses significant risk to your pet, there is another common culprit around Valentine’s Day: Xylitol (yes, it is as scary as it sounds).

Found in all manner of baked goods, gum or candy, and even human toothpaste, this sugar substitute is toxic to your pet. Responsible for triggering a severe drop in blood sugar levels (also known as hypoglycemia), Xylitol pet poisoning can result in liver failure. The symptoms are similar to those prompted by chocolate consumption, but also include:

  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lethargy or depression

Again, if you notice changes in your pet’s behavior, please contact us. Pet poisoning occurs very quickly and can have serious long-term effects. We may run certain diagnostics in our advanced lab to zero-in on your pet’s levels of toxicity.

Like The Other Holidays…

Valentine’s Day is similar to other holidays in that the food, flowers, and alcohol can all play a role in your pet’s health. Remember not to bring anything inside your home that may be dangerous to consume, and a sa general rule, don’t let your pet anywhere near your bouquet.

Show The Love

Your pet deserves your love and attention on Valentine’s Day. Take the time to choose a new toy or collar for him or her, or go ahead and make a catnip mouse or DIY healthy treat. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to snuggle or play more.

Share The Love

Alternatively, you may show your love for all pets by donating toys, bedding, food, or similar donation to our local shelter or rescue.

Happy And Safe

Our veterinarians and staff at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital wish you and your four-legged sweetheart (cat, dog, small mammal, or pocket pet), a happy and safe Valentine’s Day!