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Valentine’s Day Pet Hazards

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and love is in the air. Which means, chocolates, gifts, and flowers are in the home. But it’s not all roses for our pets if they ingest these goodies. Here are five of the most common reasons we see sick pets around the holidays:

Chocolate – Chocolate is dangerous for its methylxanthine contents: caffeine and theobromine. In general, the darker the chocolate (think baking chocolate/powder) the more severe the toxicity. Both agents cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), increased heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, electrolyte imbalances, and hyperthermia. Death can occur from cardiac or respiratory arrest secondary to these signs.
Symptoms: excessive drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness

Flowers and Plants – Lilies can cause acute kidney injury and kidney failure in cats when even the smallest amount of flower, stem, pollen, or even vase water is encountered. To be on the safe side, I recommend all cat owners be diligent in identifying and discarding any suspicious lily-like flowers and keeping bouquets out of reach of curious kitties. Always do a quick google search before bringing new plants into your home to make sure they are pet friendly.
Symptoms: vomiting, anorexia/decreased appetite, diarrhea

High Fat Foods – Acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is a painful after-effect in dogs that get into the garbage or who eat too many table scraps.
Symptoms: vomiting, anorexia/decreased appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Xylitol – Hoping to freshen your breath before your big date? Be sure to stash your gums and mints in a secure drawer or container as many of these products contain the artificial sweetener xylitol which can be deadly. Xylitol ingestion in dogs causes dangerous drops in blood glucose levels that can lead to coma and death. Even with treatment, some dogs develop liver failure hours to days after the exposure.
Symptoms: weakness, seizures, vomiting, wobbly gait (ataxia); liver failure – yellow hue to skin, eyes, or gums

Foreign bodies – Teddy bears, gift wrapping, jewelry, etc. are all potential snacks for our pets, particularly those on the younger side. Ingesting foreign objects can cause life-threatening obstructions and perforations in the stomach and intestinal tract. Kitties are infamous for ingesting linear foreign bodies, like ribbons and string, which typically require emergency surgery.
Symptoms: persistent vomiting, inappetence, diarrhea, abdominal pain

If your pet is showing signs of illness or you are aware of a potential toxin exposure, please call our office during business hours at 215-563-8387 or bring them to your closest 24/7 emergency facility.

Author: Dr. Jennifer Fennelly

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