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Valentine's Day Pet Safety Tips

As Australians get ready to indulge in some sweet treats and rose overload this month,
Pet Insurance Australia has a timely reminder about the dangers lurking behind the expected romantic gestures.

“It’s that time of year again when many will be awaiting an outpouring of romance this Valentine’s Day,” Crighton says. “However, it’s really important that people ensure their pets are kept safe.”

Some pets, particularly dogs will go to extreme levels to access sweet treats and chocolate.

“Chocolate is bad for a number of reasons”, Crighton says. “The fat and sugar content and also the combination of caffeine and theobromine.”

When dogs ingest a large amount of fat it can lead to pancreatitis and pain in the abdomen. This severe metabolic change can be deadly. But it’s the combination of caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate that can cause a host of deadly problems for our beloved canine companions.

Common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea and pain,” Crighton says. “While theobromine and caffeine poisoning can result in other symptoms such as panting, tremors, seizures, high heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm, coma and possibly death.”

Toxicity depends on the amount of chocolate eaten, the type of chocolate, and the size of your dog. The darker the chocolate the more at risk your pet is of becoming seriously ill.

“The common levels for milk chocolate are around 14g per kilogram of weight to cause serious issues,” Crighton warns. “For dark chocolate, this is as little as 3.5g per kilogram of weight.”

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it is expected chocolate poisoning cases in pets to increase.

“It’s just about being safe and ensuring you keep the chocolate safely in a cupboard and out of sniff reach for your pet,” Crighton says. “Chocolate is also toxic for cats, however, they seem to be less curious as our canine companions, so there are significantly fewer incidents.”

During festive seasons, such as Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s day, the rate of toxicity caused by chocolate can climb as high as 200%
“We see this trend year on year, so it’s paramount pet owners are vigilant when it comes to storing their chocolate and sweet treats.”
The average treatment cost for chocolate toxicity for dogs and cats was $457 in 2023 with the highest treatment cost recorded of nearly $5,000^.  

What about flowers?

“If you are thinking outside the rose box this year and going for another flower arrangement for your beloved, ensure they do not have a cat, before purchasing lilies in your flower arrangement,” Crighton warns. “Lilies are highly toxic to cats and kittens.”

Cats are unique in their susceptibility to lily poisoning, which can cause acute kidney failure. All parts of the lily plant are toxic to cats and that includes the stem, leaves, and roots – even licking the pollen off their coat can result in poisoning.

Within two hours of ingestion, vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite can occur. As the acute kidney damage develops, cats will show signs of weakness, drooling, drinking, urinating more often, tremors, and even seizures. If left untreated, cats can die within a few days to a week.

“Sadly even with intensive treatment, some cats do not survive,” Crighton says. “So before you click ‘send’ on your flower arrangement for your cat-loving partner, double-check there are no lilies and substitute for another flower.”

If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily it is advised to seek veterinary treatment quickly.

Data from PetSure shows lilies were the most frequently consumed toxin by cats for foreign body ingestion claims in 2023. The average claim cost for toxin plants (lilies) was $672 with the highest treatment cost recorded of over $10,000*.

PetSure Australia's Veterinary Advisor, Dr Kylie Mitchell, says there are steps pet parents can take to minimise the risk of toxins to pets within the home.

“When bringing flowers or chocolates home, try to keep them out of reach from your four-legged friends to avoid any mishaps. Try to confine your pets to safe areas within the home and keep a watchful eye on them.

“You can also opt for pet-friendly flowers like roses, sunflowers and gerbera daisies which are all great alternatives to lilies and other pet-toxic varieties,” she said.

To ensure a memorable Valentine's Day celebration with pets, Pet Insurance Australia offers the following date ideas:

✔️ Picnic with Your Pooch - Plan a special picnic outing with your dog, with water and treats for your canine companion.

✔️ Pet-Friendly Weekend Getaway - Arrange a pet-friendly adventure for the weekend at destinations that welcome pets of all sizes.

✔️ Playdate with a Pup Pal - Organise a playdate for your pet with their furry friend to enjoy some social interaction.

✔️ Dress Up for a Night In - Have a cosy night with your pets, complete with cute outfits for a memorable evening.

✔️ Adventure with Your Pet - Embark on a unique outdoor adventure with your pet along pet-friendly walking tracks or a new off-leash area.

✔️ Pet Photoshoot - Capture precious moments with your pet by organising a photoshoot to commemorate the occasion.

✔️ Quality Time Together - Spend quality time bonding with your pet through activities they enjoy.

✔️ Beach Day Bliss - Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach with your furry best friend, soaking in the view and creating lasting memories.

*PetSure claims data for the past 12 months, treatment costs for intoxication (poisoning) - plant – lily for dogs & cats
^PetSure claims data for the past 12 months, average treatment cost for toxin exposure – chocolate for dogs & cats

last updated 12th February 2024

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