From poisonous treats to toxic flowers, spare a thought for keeping your furry friends safe around St Valentine’s Day
Enjoying the unconditional love and companionship of animals has been a huge comfort for millions of families during the last two years of pandemic lockdowns, shielding and restrictions. With the fun of St Valentine’s Day around the corner, here’s a reminder about keeping your pets safe from things you may not realise pose a risk.
The classic Valentine gift is chocolate – who can resist? For dogs, chocolate is toxic due to it containing theobromine, which is fine for humans, but can cause serious illness if dogs eat it. They also metabolise it slowly, so if it’s ingested in small amounts, theobromine can still build up and cause problems.
For dogs, small amounts of chocolate can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, but a large amount of theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or even a heart attack. So, keep those chocolate hearts well out of reach of dogs!
A bouquet of red roses is a luxurious and beautiful gift, but it can pose dangers to cats if they nibble on them, causing nausea and vomiting. Thorns can get caught in paws and fur of cats and dogs, and obviously are a health risk if swallowed. Lilies are even more dangerous to cats if any part of the plant is ingested, potentially proving fatal. Cats are curious by nature, so it’s wise to place flowers and plants in a room where your pet doesn’t go.
Pop goes the champagne cork, and a fizzy splash hits the floor. Guess who’s there to lap it up – to a dog or cat, even just a small amount of alcohol can cause poisoning, as well as the intoxication symptoms humans may feel. Mop up spillages quickly and keep left-over alcoholic drinks out of your pets’ reach.
Lights off, romantic music softly playing in the background, candles casting a soft glow… Not wishing to kill the mood, but candle fires reportedly cause around 350 casualties each year in the UK, so it’s wise to be extra careful.
There are some simple safety rules to follow, including around your pets, so enjoy the candlelight and stay safe.
Make sure candles are kept well away from flammable materials like curtains, furniture and bedding, and that nothing could fall down onto them to ignite a fire. Importantly, keep them out of the way of your pets and children, who could either scorch themselves, or knock them over and trigger devastating results. Put out candles when you leave the room, even for a moment.
Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder, as they are designed to liquefy to maximise the fragrance. Don’t put several candles close together as the flames could flare.
And remember to check your smoke detectors regularly, and make sure everyone in the house knows and has practiced your escape plan and knows the routes out in case of a fire.
Gift wrap and ribbon
Make sure that discarded gift wrap and ribbon has been properly put into a secure bin, as they are not a safe toy for cats and dogs, especially if they find it when you’re not looking. Choking, getting tangled, eating it – throw it away to avoid a trip to the vets.
As we look in hopeful optimism to a brighter future after what we’ve all endured for the last two years, let’s enjoy the spirit of St Valentine’s Day, and have a safe and happy time.