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Love is in the Air

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and, before you celebrate with your loved one, be sure that your beloved furry friend stays safe and healthy. 


Chocolate has always been the number one traditional gift to give or receive on this special day, but don’t forget that it is absolutely off-limits to all cats and dogs.  As humans we generally find chocolate tasty and satisfying to our taste buds, but chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, both of which can cause serious and possibly fatal health issues to your furry friend.  The substances contained in chocolate affect both the heart and central nervous systems in dogs and, the more chocolate that is ingested, the more serious the consequences. 


The types of chocolate ingested should also be taken into consideration, as certain types of chocolate contain a higher percentage of dangerous substances.  For example, Unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate is much more dangerous than Milk Chocolate. 


You also need to consider the size of your pet. As a general rule serious side effects can happen with one ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight. 


If your pup happens to find and lick a wrapper from a chocolate, there probably won’t be any cause for concern but, if he gets into the box and ingests a few of the sweet treats, it’s time to make a trip to your Emergency Vet Clinic.  Depending on the size of your pet, it can take up to six hours before symptoms show up, but don’t waste time waiting to see what may happen.  Ignoring the problem or delaying in getting professional help could prove to be fatal for your pet. 


You also need to be careful of baked goods, such as muffins or cup cakes, which may contain chocolate chips or be decorated with chocolate frosting or contain cinnamon.  Cinnamon can irritate the lining of the dog’s mouth and lower blood sugars. 


Also be very wary of chocolates or other baked goods which may contain nuts and, in particular, Macadamia Nuts, which are one of the most dangerous for dogs. 


Candy of any type is never good for dogs, but sugar-free candy contains Xylitol, which is a sugar substitute and is toxic to dogs.  It can cause very low blood sugar levels and, if they eat a lot, can cause liver failure. Vomiting, weakness or seizures can occur in as little as half an hour after ingesting the candy, or up to twelve hours, depending on the speed the candy is absorbed in the body. 


Plants and flowers are also a popular gift for Valentine’s Day, but be careful as not all plants and flowers are safe for your pets. 


Flowers, such as Roses, have thorns and, if eaten the thorns can get stuck in your pet’s paws or nose.  Bouquets of flowers which may contain Tulips, Chrysanthemums or Lilies, can also be harmful for your pet.  If your pup tries to eat these flowers, they can make your pup quite ill as their mouths and intestines can become irritated, which will cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. 


If a romantic evening is in the cards for Valentine’s Day, chances are candles and wine will be a big part of the evening. Pups can sometimes be a little clumsy or get overly excited, and accidentally knock over a lit candle which could cause a fire.  And as I’m sure all of you are aware, any form of alcohol is harmful to pets, and again, the percentage of alcohol and the dog’s weight are factors. 


Valentine’s Day may also include balloons and gift wrap with ribbons and bows. If this is the case, be sure that all gift wrap and the decorations are completely discarded. Ribbons, pieces of gift wrap or scotch tape, can be temping for your pup to chew on and can cause a choking hazard to your pet. 


You also need to be cautious of balloons.  If they “pop” a dog can become frightened and try to bolt out a door, but the debris from a popped balloon can also pose a hazard for your pet if ingested. 


So while Valentine’s Day may be a time for love and gift giving with your special someone, be sure that you exercise caution with your special four legged furry friend, and have a safe and happy day and evening. 

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