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Love Your Pets: 5 Tips for a Pet-Friendly Valentine's Day

By: Courtesy of ASPCA

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As Valentine's Day approaches, sweethearts will begin to search far and wide for that perfect gift to give to loved ones during this romance-filled time of year-roses, chocolates & candy, perhaps a new four-legged friend? As you search for the perfect Valentine's Day gift or gifts, make sure your dogs and cats stay safe. Here are some tips on having a loving and safe Valentine's Day:

1. While beautiful flowers are always a favorite on Valentine's Day, pet owners are urged to take caution with roses or any other flowers containing thorns, which could be potentially harmful to pets if played with, bitten, stepped on or swallowed. "It's all too easy for pets to step on thorny stems that fall to the ground as a flower arrangement is being created," said Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine for the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Hospital. "Be sure to keep your pets clear of your workspace as you arrange your beautiful flowers, since they can develop serious infections from thorn punctures. Also, many varieties of lilies are highly toxic to cats, so if these are your Valentine's flower of choice, make sure your cats can't get near them."

2. Chocolate is also a popular gift around this time of year. But this delectable treat is one that could make pets ill. Chocolates may contain fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines, which can potentially cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea to panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death in severe cases.

3. Another potential hazard is gum or candy sweetened with the sugar substitute xylitol, which can cause a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar (known as hypoglycemia), resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. "If you suspect your dog may have eaten products containing any of these harmful ingredients, please seek veterinary treatment immediately," said Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and Vice President of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, the premier animal poison control center in North America.

4. As a general rule, the ASPCA advises that pet owners avoid offering their animals food meant for human consumption without first speaking with their regular veterinarian, and to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing chocolate or xylitol out of pets' reach.

5. Lastly, it may seem very tempting to give your loved one a new puppy or kitten for Valentine's Day-they sure are cute and cuddly! But the ASPCA wants to remind you that bringing a new companion animal into your home is a big decision. Why not present your loved one with a gift certificate to adopt from the ASPCA shelter, or take a trip to the shelter together? You might just make another love match.



Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Western Hemisphere and today has one million supporters. The ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides national leadership in anti-cruelty, animal behavior, humane education, government affairs and public policy, shelter support, and animal poison control.

The NYC headquarters houses a full-service animal hospital and adoption facility. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series "Animal Precinct" on Animal Planet. Visit www.aspca.org for more information.



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