Valentine's Day Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Jan 23, 2012, 12:32 ET from Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa., Jan. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many holidays cause a spike in poison-related cases for animals, and Valentine's Day is no exception. A holiday that's known for choco­late, flowers and cocktails can cause a myriad of poisoning possibilities. The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is providing tips on how to prevent unwanted consequences with your favorite Valentine's Day treats.

All species of lily are potentially fatal to cats. If possible, specify no lilies if buying an arrangement for a household with cats. If not, sort through the flowers to remove any lilies. Symptoms of lily ingestion in cats can be stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea. Likewise, thorns on roses or other flowers can be dangerous for dogs or other pets. Biting, stepping on or swallowing stems with thorns increases risk for a puncture, which can result in serious infections internally or externally.

Many people receive chocolate on Valentine's Day, but chocolate is toxic to pets—dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic, but dark, milk, semi-sweet and baker's chocolates all can cause adverse reactions. Darker chocolates contain caffeine-like stimulants that cause gastrointestinal, neurologic, and cardiac functions that can cause vomiting/diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and elevated heart rate. High fat in lighter chocolates can cause life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas, so make sure to keep the chocolate where pets can't reach it.

Cocktails also pose a threat to pets. Because of their smaller size, even a small amount of alcohol stolen from a low-sitting glass or lapped off the floor after a spill can cause dramatic problems like vomiting/diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, and even coma.

In addition, be sure to blow out any unattended candles when you leave the room and put away wrapping paper and bows from gifts after opening. Valentine's Day can be fun for everyone with just a little forethought. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 800.213.6680.

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) is the only statewide professional organization of over 2,200 veterinarians from across the Commonwealth. The association, which was established in 1883, strives to advance animal welfare and human health while ensuring the vitality of the veterinary profession. PVMA's website is available at

SOURCE Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)