Common and Not-So-Common Valentine’s Day Toxicities

wine on table with food, napkin and utensils

While chocolate and flowers are traditionally considered romantic Valentine’s Day traditions, pets who nibble on their owner’s gifts definitely won’t be feeling the love.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has gathered a list of common and not-so-common Valentine’s Day toxicities to help you provide the best possible care to your patients.

Chocolate

Get ready for the next wave of chocolate cases, since Valentine’s Day is a biggie!

Often chocolates contain additional fillings which increase the risk of pancreatitis but may limit the amount of actual chocolate ingested. While not common, keep an eye out for raisins and xylitol in chocolate.

Flowers

Roses are certainly the iconic flower of Valentine’s day, but mixed bouquets are also common. Unfortunately, lilies that can cause acute kidney injury in cats (Lillium sp. or Hemorcallis sp.) are commonly used in mixed bouquets.

Don’t trust the affected pet’s owner to identify flowers in the bouquet—instead, request a picture or have the owner call the store/company where the flowers were purchased and get a list of what was in the bouquet.

And if you’re not good at identifying flowers, there are many apps and websites with pictures of common flowers used in bouquets.

Marijuana

With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in many states, marijuana exposure in animals is on the rise.

Marijuana is also found in products that pets may be more interested in: chocolates, baked goods or even lotions are becoming common.

Onion & Garlic

A rich, romantic meal for two sounds like the perfect idea for Valentine’s Day, at least until a pet jumps on the counter and starts eating the diced onion.

While one bite may not be a problem, in cats 5 g/kg or more and in dogs 15 g/kg or more of onions has resultant in clinically significant hematologic changes.

Alcohol

What goes better with a good meal than a glass of wine? Problems can occur, however, when a glass is left accessible and the pet laps it up.

While the grapes in wine have not proven to be an issue for dogs, the alcohol certainly could cause problems for them.

Gum

Gum containing xylitol may be a good bad-breath cure, but it’s also one of the most common sources of xylitol toxicity for dogs.

To add to the confusion, the amount of xylitol in different brands of gum can vary widely—and it’s found in many other products as well.

Perfume

No one wants to smell bad for the big date, but when the little Chihuahua licks her owner’s skin after a recent application, is there reason for concern?

Perfumes are primarily composed of essential oils and alcohols which in small amounts may cause the pet to wonder what it was they just tasted, but not likely much more.

Personal lubricant

It goes without saying that some dogs will eat anything. While most of the time lubricants only pose a risk for gastrointestinal upset particularly diarrhea, there are a few products with xylitol, so always doublecheck the label.

credit: ASPCA

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