As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may be planning gifts for some of your favourite people. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that if they share their home with pets, not every gift works as well for our animal companions.  

Some of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts, in fact, can potentially lead to a visit to the emergency vet if they end up in the hands (or mouths) of the recipient’s dog or cat – which does not make for a romantic evening!  

When going through your gift-shopping list, keep the following tips in mind. 

Flowers: Some of the most commonly found flowers in bouquets can actually be surprisingly harmful to cats. Lilies are some of the most important to keep in mind – cats can become severely ill from eating just a few petals or leaves. Even drinking water from a vase of lilies or catching a few grains of pollen on their fur can sicken cats. The toxin contained in lilies affects cats’ kidneys, and the damage isn’t always apparent right away, making it particularly dangerous. 

Other common winter and spring flowers that can be harmful include amaryllis, daffodil and tulips. 

Alcohol: while a glass of wine might be just the right amount of intoxication for you, it can be dangerous for both dogs and cats. They might be attracted to the sweetness of the taste, but due to their small body sizes and different metabolisms, alcohol can cause liver and nervous system damage even in small amounts. (Additionally, grapes and grape-derived products can be dangerous for dogs, so all the more reason to keep the vino well out of reach). 

Chocolate: chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs. It contains theobromine, which is similar to caffeine, but which dogs can’t metabolise. As a general rule, higher cocoa content means more toxic (so dark chocolate is worse than milk chocolate). The size of the dog also plays a big part, though – if in doubt, have a look at our chocolate calculator to see how much chocolate a dog might have to ingest to become ill. (Interestingly, white chocolate does not contain theobromine, as it doesn’t actually contain any cocoa. Due to the high sugar and fat content, though, it’s still not a good idea to share it with your dog). 

In general, cats are less likely to steal chocolate than dogs are so we see fewer chocolate ingestion cases in cats, but the same qualities that make it toxic for dogs mean it’s not safe for cats either.  

image of button batteries for Vets Now article on the dangers of button batteries

Batteries: batteries can be hiding in the most unlikely of places, like in greeting cards with moving or singing elements – and the smaller the battery, the more likely it is that it could be swallowed by a dog or cat. Batteries are corrosive, and if not retrieved in time they can cause severe tissue damage in the digestive tract, which can be fatal. Keep careful track of items that come into the home with batteries included, especially as many of them will feature interesting movements, sounds, or lights which may attract the attention of a curious pet. 

Pets are always keeping us on our toes, and we expect that we will see at least a few cases related to the most common hazards this Valentine’s Day (and perhaps a few that we wouldn’t have thought of!). If you have any concerns about your pet, call our Video Vets Now telehealth service or your nearest Vets Now clinic for advice.