Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time of year, when tokens of love are shared by romantic partners and friends alike. Unfortunately, in all the excitement, we can often forget how toxic human treats can be for our furry friends, and distractedly leave them within the reach of our pet’s inquisitive noses!

Dr Jessica May, lead vet at digital vet service FirstVet, sheds light on the romantic foods, flowers and trinkets that are dangerous for our pets. 

Scented candles and essential oils 

Why they are dangerous

Scented candles often contain chemicals and essential oils that can be harmful for dogs and cats. If your pet eats a large amount of candle wax, it may cause digestive problems.  Additionally, most animals will experience skin irritation if they come into contact with essential oils, and if these oils get into their eyes, they can become very distressed. 

If you have candles that are lit, it is a good idea to ensure that your animals are not in the same room as a naked flame, to avoid any minor burns.

What to do

If your cat or dog has not eaten much of the candle, they may get away without any major symptoms. Keep a close eye on them over the next couple of days and monitor for any signs of distress. In the event that your pet experiences more severe symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, then take them to a vet as soon as possible. 


Why is it dangerousValentine's Day dangers for cats and dogs

Alcohol is one of the more obvious dangers for pets. A glass of wine is a common tipple on Valentine’s Day but alcoholic drinks can pose serious health risks for our pets. Alcohol consumption can cause confusion and vomiting in cats and dogs, as well as other symptoms that can typically be found in humans. Dogs may also pant excessively and have a high temperature after consuming alcohol.

What to do

Alcohol poisoning can be fatal, so it is vital to keep alcoholic drinks out of reach of your pets. It is also worth making sure that your guests know not to keep their drinks on the floor, where thirsty cats and dogs can get to them. If there is a spillage, it should be cleaned up immediately. If your pet has only had a sip of alcohol, a vet may suggest that you wait to see if any symptoms become apparent before seeking treatment. If you suspect that they have had more than a sip of alcohol, take them to a vet as soon as possible. 


Why it is dangerous

Chocolate is toxic to a range of animals, including cats, dogs, rabbits and birds. The level of danger that chocolate presents to your pet depends on the amount of cocoa that it contains. Dark chocolate is most harmful to pets due to its high levels of cocoa, while white chocolate is less toxic but it is still bad for animals.

All animals have similar symptoms during chocolate poisoning, so make sure to look out for any wobbliness, changes in heart rate, breathlessness, vomiting or diarrhoea. In more extreme cases, chocolate poisoning may cause involuntary urination. 

What to do

It is always best to be on the safe side, so if your pet consumes any chocolate, you should contact a vet as soon as possible. It is also worth trying to save any remnants of the chocolate’s wrapper, in order to help a vet understand what your dog has eaten.

Flowers and plants

Why they are dangerous

Flowers are unavoidable at this time of year, but some romantics’ favourites can be toxic to cats and dogs. Lilies should be kept well away from any cats, as they have the potential to cause damage to their kidneys. Dogs are less adversely affected by lilies but they can still cause stomach upsets. 

The symptoms your animal may suffer if they eat a toxic plant depend on the type of plant they have eaten. Vomiting and stomach aches are common symptoms but it is always best to check with a vet if you are unsure about your animals' health.

What to do

Make sure to check if the flowers you are buying are safe for your animal - a simple Google search will do. Fortunately, roses are a Valentine’s classic and safe to keep around cats and dogs!