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Answers from vets about your dog:

Why Your Dog Doesn't Want To Be Your Valentine This Year

Posted December 18, 2014 in Dog Toxins & Poisons

Dr. Justine Lee is OK with Valentine's Day but advises against bringing dangerous foods and flowers into your home for the special day. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

Ah, the Hallmark holiday of romance. While I’m all for receiving flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, I actually never really celebrate this day. Why? Because I’m a neurotic pet-owner and vigilant pet-proofer. Since I have pets in my house, I don’t want to risk accidental poisoning to my dog and cats. So, men: for once, you can skip the flowers and sweets!

So why is Valentine’s Day potentially poisonous to your pets? It’s the time of the year when the following poisons are in your house:

  • Flower bouquets
  • Balloons with ribbon
  • Candy and chocolate
  • Sweeteners

First, the flower bouquet. The reason why bouquets are so dangerous is because they often contain lilies in them. Unless you are a master gardener or able to recognize poisonous plants and flowers well, it’s safest not to bring any bouquet into your house… especially if you own a cat. True lilies – those of the Lilium spp. and Hemerocallis spp. - are frequently used in fresh bouquets because they’re really fragrant, inexpensive, and have a long-lasting bloom. The ones we worry about the most are the Oriental, Japanese show, Stargazer, day, and Tiger lilies. As little as 1-2 leaves - or even the pollen - can cause severe acute kidney failure when ingested by cats. Even the water in the vase is poisonous, and can cause poisoning if your cat drinks it directly.  I personally hate lily poisoning, as this poisonous plant accidentally killed the cat that I gave to my sister years ago.  Clinical signs of lily poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, inappetance, increased or decreased thirst and urination, halitosis (from kidney poisons building up in the blood stream) and kidney failure. If your cat does get into a lily, prompt emergency treatment is necessary, and includes decontamination (e.g., activated charcoal to bind up the poison), aggressive intravenous (IV) fluids to flush out the kidneys, anti-vomiting medication, and careful blood work monitoring for several days. As for dogs, thankfully, these plants don’t cause serious harm – only in cats. When ingested by dogs, lilies will result only in mild gastrointestinal upset.

While you may think those balloons are benign, the string or ribbon attached to it poses a significant health

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.