Valentine’s Day typically means love, kisses, and heart shaped everythings! For some people, love and kisses are synonymous with their beloved pets. While you may received some nice gifts from someone special this holiday, it is important to keep in mind the health risks associated with pets and these gifts. If you’re a dog lover or a cat enthusiast, Valentine’s Day can be a reminder for everyone to think a little more about the heart.
Did you know that dogs have a larger heart to body mass ratio than all other mammals? With so much heart, pet owners must do anything and everything to protect them. Although you may receive a heart shaped box of chocolates, please remember that chocolate contains theobromine, an extreme stimulant for dogs. Theobromine causes a racing heart and stimulates the central nervous system. Some dogs have such a sensitivity to this chemical that even the smallest amount can cause seizures and even death. Keep in mind that the darker the chocolate is, the more toxic it is for your dog. Another thing to keep out of reach of your furry companions are candies and other treats containing the additive xylitol. This is a sweetener that will stimulate the pancreas to produces extra insulin, which suppresses blood sugar levels. On top of that, it can cause liver damage, which can result in problems with blood clotting so it is crucial for pet owners to keep these out of paws reach.
Did you know a cat's heart beats 2 - 3 times faster than a humans? A cat's heart beats 150 to 210 per minute compared to a humans which is 60 to 80 beats per minute. Just like dogs, chocolate and xylitol can be toxic to cats. The chocolate toxicity dose for cats is lower than it is for dogs but, not to worry, cats are less prone to eating chocolate on their own because they are unable to taste sweetness. Something to be wary about with cats are the flowers that they could be exposed to. A very popular bouquet to gift all year round, lilies make for gorgeous Valentine’s Day gift. Unfortunately, these flowers are fatal for cats. Even if your feline does not eat the plant directly, the pollen can settle on your cats favorite sunbathing area or they can rub up against them and lick the pollen off while cleaning. Although lilies are one of the most fatal, cat owners should also use caution if gifted any of these popular flowers: Amaryllis, Daffodils, Tulips, and Irises.
With such large and fast hearts, canine and feline companions deserve to be kept safe all year but did you also know that while you provide care for your furry friend that they are returning the favor? According to Harvard Health Publishing, having a pet- in particular a dog- can help lower the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) concluded from the evidence presented that dog owners are more likely to exercise, which makes them less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress. The AHA panel reviewing the evidence cautioned that, “Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.”
With so much love in the air this Valentine’s Day, it is easy to get distracted. If your pet comes in contact with any of the above mentioned flowers or has ingested any of your holiday treats, do not hesitate to contact your veterinary provider right away. We must be sure to extend our love in positive ways so before gifting your valentine something sweet, do your research on what gifts may be the best for pet owners. If you really want to wow your pet-owner, Valentine this year, consider gifting them something that can also benefit their pet.
Happy Valentine’s Day!