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Love and Distraction: How to Avoid a Pet Poisoning This Valentine’s Day


Valentines chocolate_iStock_000000406874_MediumFebruary 14th is a day to express affection, but it also provides opportunities for curious pets to find trouble. To be sure, pet poisonings are far more likely around certain holidays, such as Christmas and Halloween. Valentine’s Day is also full of pet risks. However, with extra precautions in place, your pet can remain safe from harm.

Alert and Aware

In nature, predators are effectively deterred by bright colors and flashy patterns on a potential prey’s exterior. Unfortunately, pets don’t always get the message that a red, sparkly heart-shaped box (and its toxic chocolate contents) is off-limits.

Chocolate is the number one cause of poisoning in dogs, but other pets have also been known to eat it and become sick. Caffeine and theobromine naturally occur in chocolate, but cannot be properly metabolized by pets. As a result, serious, even life-threatening, symptoms can arise, such as increased blood pressure, tremors, and seizures.

Toxic Levels

The severity of pet poisoning symptoms is directly related to the size and weight of the animal, the type of toxin, and the amount consumed. Dark and baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder are considered the most dangerous. Please do not wait to see if symptoms clear up on their own. A pet poisoning requires prompt emergency veterinary services.

Pet Poisoning and Xylitol

Valentine’s Day confections can be made with the artificial sweetener, Xylitol. Because this is highly toxic to pets, often resulting in hypoglycemia, please keep all candy out of reach.

Toxic Stems and Petals

Roses are the most common Valentine bloom, but if your pet eats any petals or leaves (or chews on stems), you might be looking at trouble in the GI tract or lacerations (internal or external).

Lilies, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths should also be on your list of "paws-off" petals.

Other Considerations

Because you simply cannot be over prepared regarding your pet’s safety and wellness, please do not offer or allow your pet access to any of the following:

  • Decorations like balloons, streamers, ribbons, bows, and tape
  • Alcohol, even small amounts, can result in a severe pet poisoning, coma, or even death.
  • Open flames, like those found on very pretty Valentine’s Day tapered candles, are a big risk. Your friend’s eyes, nose, and whiskers can easily be burnt, and flames can cause fires to break out when knocked over.

Don’t Wait

Even if you have the smallest suspicion that your pet isn’t feeling well, please don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s also a good idea to keep these numbers on hand:

  • Pet Poison Helpline 1-855-764-7661
  • ASPCA Poison Control Center 188-426-4435

We’re always here for your pet and will do everything we can to prevent or treat a pet poisoning.

Have a happy (and safe) Valentine’s Day!


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Westlake Animal Hospital


3930 Bee Cave Rd. Austin, TX 78746

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Mon-Fri: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sat & Sun: Closed