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Avoid a Valentine’s Day Emergency

10/Feb/2014

Valentine’s Day is drawing near and many romantics will be planning a special day for their partner. At the same time, vets and nurses at the Animal Emergency Centre are preparing for the inevitable influx of animals that will have eaten something they should not have.

Dangers around the house that tend to be more problematic for pets around Valentine’s Day include:

  1. Lilies: Fresh bouquets of lilies are beautiful to look at, but even a single bite can be toxic to a cat causing drooling, vomiting and, most seriously, acute kidney (renal) failure that is life-threatening. Cats may be unwell for a few hours after ingestion and then appear to recover, before developing kidney failure 1-2 days later. Immediate treatment after ingestion is required. The prognosis is poor for cats that develop renal failure. It is best to avoid having lilies of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species if you have cats in your home.
  2. Chocolate: The classic gift for a Valentine. Chocolate contains the compound theobromine that is highly toxic to dogs and cats. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more concentrated and deadly the theobromine. Amounts as small as 30g of cooking chocolate can cause severe clinical signs in an average sized Labrador. In addition, many food stuffs that are poisonous in themselves come coated in chocolate such as sultanas and macadamia nuts. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, excitability, tremoring or shaking, and this may progress to seizures, heart failure and death. Immediate treatment after ingestion is required and the prognosis with treatment is excellent.
  3. Alcohol: Dogs, cats and even birds, will sometimes try to drink alcohol that has been left unsupervised. Our companion pets have less tolerance to alcohol than people, and even small volumes can be life-threatening. Symptoms include vomiting, staggering, excitement, increased need to urinate, depression, slowed breathing and death. Immediate treatment after ingestion is required and the prognosis with treatment is excellent.
  4. Undergarments: While this may be surprising for many pet owners, dogs are at risk of accidentally choking or ingesting these items, which can lead to serious stomach or intestinal obstruction and may require surgery to assist. Please ensure these items are placed away from curious pets.
  5. Gift wrapping ribbons: Gifts are often beautifully adorned with ribbons and bows, and cats in particular love to play with these accessories. If swallowed, such items can lead to a stomach or intestinal obstruction that may require surgery to relieve. After opening any gifts, be sure to quickly dispose of any wrappings and accessories into a sealed rubbish bin.
  6. Candles: Do not leave the room while candles are burning and keep your pets away. Many pets will be attracted to the flame and may get burnt or singed. In addition to this, there is always the risk that they may knock over the candle and inadvertently start a house fire.

This Valentine’s Day, spend more time with your sweetheart by keeping your pet safe and away from the emergency room.

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