Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Pet Owners, Share Valentine's Day Love With Hugs, but Skip the Hearts and Flowers for Fido and Tabby

PRNewswire -- On Valentine's Day we profess our unconditional love to those who mean the most, lavishing them with affections and confections. For animal lovers, expressions of adoration and devotion can easily extend to our pets.

However, there are some pet hazards associated with the traditions of the holiday, explains veterinarian Dr. Kristie Souders of North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Dr. Souders offers these tips on how to keep pets safe from potential Valentine's Day hazards.

Chocolate

The number one belly ache for pets on Valentine's Day is chocolate since it's so readily available. Depending on the amount ingested, chocolate is potentially poisonous to many animals. A good rule of thumb to remember is the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be. These particular chocolates contain theobromine, which is a substance similar to caffeine. Even in small, non-toxic doses, chocolate can still cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, dehydration and seizures. It's best not to tempt fate with tempting chocolates. Leave the sweets for your human sweetie.

Candy and Gum

Many sugar-free candy, gum and baked products today contain xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener found in plants that is used as a sugar substitute and is highly toxic to dogs, so be sure not to leave these snacks where your pet can find them. Dogs ingesting significant amounts of gum or candies solely or largely sweetened with xylitol may develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and even liver failure. Symptoms come on very quickly. If you suspect that your pet has ingested any amount of xylitol, call your veterinarian immediately.

Plants, Flowers and Candles

Many flower and plant varieties are poisonous or harmful to pets. Different plants and flowers have varied effects. Some of the more popular varieties that may be found around Valentine's Day are: Baby's Breath, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, various Lilies, Ferns, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rubber plants, and Tulips. Cats, especially, find grass-like plants irresistible and have access to just about everywhere. There are many more flowers and plants that can cause upset and even death to your pet, so please be aware to keep all varieties of flora and fauna away from them. Candles are also popular on holidays. Be mindful that pets, especially cats, can be attracted to the flicker and have the potential for being burned or knocking over a candle that could cause a fire. Keep burning candles out of reach and never leave them unattended when your pet is in the area.

Pamper Your Pets This Valentine's Day

While traditional Valentine's Day goodies are not good for animals, there are plenty of pet delicacies you can use to pamper your pet so he doesn't feel left out. An extra long walk or a special brushing can be just what Cupid ordered. Exercise and grooming have infinite benefits for both of you. Treats of the non-edible kind are equally as satisfying. A new bed, toy, catnip or bone can help express that special place in the heart saved for our furry friends.

This Valentine's Day, if you are an animal lover, think about opening your heart and home to a shelter animal. You will be saving a life. If you don't have a pet, consider the Valentine's gift of sponsorship. For more information on pet safety and well-being, to learn more about North Shore Animal League America, or to send a Valentine's e-card visit www.AnimalLeague.org .

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