Valentine’s Day Pet Hazards

Dog With Rose

Sweets for your sweet, flowers for your love, that special gift wrapping, and romantic candles to set the mood could spell disaster for your pet. Each year, on Valentine’s Day, emergency veterinarians provide care to cats and dogs who have eaten the flowers or candy that were gifts for their owners. Below are tips for how to keep your pet safe from the most common Valentine’s hazards.


This Valentine’s Day favorite contains a chemical called theobromine that is highly toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the greater the concentration of theobromine. Ingesting even small amounts can lead to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, seizures, heart failure, and death. Immediate veterinary care is recommended for any dog that consumes chocolate. While chocolate is also toxic to cats, it poses less risk, because cats are generally uninterested in eating chocolate. Small, sturdy candy wrappers like those found in many Valentine’s Day heart boxes are hazards as well because they can become lodged in throats or digestive tracts, requiring surgery to remove them.


Xylitol can be found in many products, like sugar-free candy, chewing gum, and chewable vitamins; it’s also becoming increasingly popular in baking. That means it could be present in those Valentine’s cakes and other sweet treats from the bakery. Xylitol can be highly toxic to dogs and can lower their blood sugar or even cause liver failure.


Roses may seem to be the official flower of Valentine’s Day but buyers beware, many florists mix lilies into their Valentine’s bouquets to create a more impressive arrangement at a lower cost. Lilies, including all members of the Lilium and Hemerocallis genera, are highly toxic to cats and often fatal when consumed. All parts of the plant are considered dangerous; a cat that has simply licked Lily pollen off of its paws or drank the water from a vase of Lilies could be in grave danger. Make sure to inspect any bouquets delivered to your home before bringing them inside. If you aren’t sure if a stem of something mixed into your bouquet is toxic, you can download a free plant identification app to your smartphone and upload a picture to get a quick answer.


Creating ambiance with candles can be very romantic, however, an unattended flame can quickly cause burns if your pet gets too close. Consider using battery-operated, flameless candles instead, especially if you have a pet that is on the curious side or likes to curl up next to warm things.

Gift Wrap

Chlorine bleach and toxic dyes are sometimes used to create colorful patterns on wrapping paper. Gift-wrapping involves more than just paper and boxes, though. Tape, ribbons, bows, and even scissors can be swallowed by an unsupervised dog, which can lead to intestinal blockages and rupture.

Even with the best planning, accidents can happen. If you feel your pet is having a medical emergency, please contact your family veterinarian or give us a call at 336-288-2688.

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At Happy Tails Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Greensboro, NC, our kind and knowledgeable team is available to provide gold standard emergency vet care for you and your pet. We’re available in the late night and early morning hours during the week, and 24/7 on weekends for your convenience.