A pet parent’s guide to a sweet and pet-friendly Valentine’s Day

Jan 30, 2024

Valentine’s Day is a time for love and affection, not just for humans but also a time to show even more love and appreciation for our pets. Valentine’s Day is often symbolized by an abundance of sweet treats and other goodies like chocolates and flowers which contain hidden dangers for our furry family members. As a pet parent, being aware of these dangers should help you and your pet enjoy a safe and loving Valentine’s Day. 💖


On Valentine’s Day, chocolate embodies love, decadence and indulgence for us humans. However for our beloved pets, it poses a significant health risk. The issue lies in two key components found in chocolate: theobromine and caffeine. These substances have the potential to overstimulate pets leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing and even seizures. 

But not all chocolate is the same. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of harmful ingredients. Even a small amount of dark chocolate can be toxic to a medium-sized dog. Additionally, watch out for treats like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and raisins, espresso or coffee beans coated with chocolate and those products containing xylitol – all of which are toxic to pets. 

What happens if a pet ingests a toxic dose of chocolate? Treatment could include inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal to absorb the toxins, providing supportive care like fluids and careful monitoring of vital signs and bloodwork. Even with timely treatment, some pets will develop GI and other symptoms.


The beauty and captivating fragrance of fresh flowers is a hallmark of Valentine’s Day celebrations. But not all flowers are safe for our furry friends. 

When selecting flowers, opt for safe options including classic roses, sunflowers, daisies, gerbera daisies, orchids, zinnia, and alstroemeria. Try to stick to bouquets that are one type of flower because mixed bouquets often have toxic flowers mixed in. Flowers like lilies, tulips, and daffodils pose a serious threat to pets, with lilies being particularly dangerous to cats as ingesting even tiny amounts can lead to kidney failure. 

So what happens if your pet ingests a toxic flower or plant? Symptoms can range from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe organ damage. Being aware of the danger is the first step in keeping your furry family member safe.

Should You Call a Pet Poison Helpline?

In cases where you think your pet may have been exposed to a poisonous substance, pet poison helplines are an invaluable resource. While general practitioner veterinarians are skilled in many areas, they can’t be experts in all areas, such as the toxic effects of every type of plant and food in every species. This is where a poison helpline that is staffed with veterinary toxicology experts can step in as an invaluable resource. 

Calculating the toxic dose of substances is a complex task entrusted to a trained toxicologist, and is the first step in every potential poisoning case. The level of toxicity depends on various factors, including the type of toxin consumed, the quantity ingested, and the size of the pet. Additionally, manufacturers might not publicly disclose the precise amounts of substances toxic to pets, such as theobromine and caffeine in chocolate products, but the pet poison helplines have access to this crucial proprietary information. If the helpline staff recommends in-person care for your pet, they will be available to work with the veterinarian who sees your pet, if necessary.

Unlike human poison control centers, pet poison helplines are not government funded and therefore require a small fee to pay their highly trained staff. The fee covers expert advice and 24/7 availability, ensuring your pet gets the best possible care in the case of an emergency. Two reputable pet poison helplines are:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control

Pet Poison Helpline

Make sure that this Valentine’s Day you’re making memories for the right reasons. By being aware of common hazards and knowing what to do in an emergency, you can better ensure a safe and happy celebration for everyone. Keep the numbers of pet poison helplines handy and don’t hesitate to use them if needed. Together, you and your pet can have a day filled with love, care and cherished memories.