By Dr. Becker
Many pet owners include their furry loved ones in Valentine's Day celebrations.
And who better to celebrate on St. Valentine's Day than the one devoted soul in your life who offers true unconditional love?
Valentine's Day Do's
If you'd like to do something special for your four-legged companion on February 14th, here are a few neat ideas:
- Make an appointment to have professional photos taken of your pet, or hire an artist to paint a portrait of your dog, cat, or other favorite critter.
- Make a permanent clay print of your pet's paw with a special kit.
- If your dog has a favorite activity like riding in the car, hiking a trail with you, or retrieving a tennis ball over and over and over (and over), carve out a couple hours on or around Valentine's Day and indulge him.
- Skip the heart-shaped carb-heavy pet treats and invest the money instead in a small amount of an excellent quality raw, canned or dehydrated dog or cat food.
- Set aside 15 minutes to a half hour and give your animal companion your undivided attention. Don't multi-task during this small window of time. Allow no interruptions. Do nothing but focus on your pet. Soak up her animal energy.
You can spend the time just petting or massaging your pet, bathing or grooming her, or doing an at-home wellness exam. You can take your dog for a short, invigorating walk. Engage your kitty with her favorite toy. Chat with your bird. Set your pocket pet free to investigate a bit of the world outside her cage.
…and a Few Don'ts
Human celebrations of Valentine's Day tend to involve things that can be harmful to pets, including potentially toxic flower and plant arrangements, chocolate, wine or other adult beverages, and candlelit dinners.
- If you're thinking of buying a plant or flower arrangement for your pet-owning sweetie, visit the ASPCA.org for a list of both toxic and non-toxic plants.
- If candy is on your V Day shopping list, keep in mind chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs. And the darker the chocolate, the more toxic.
Chocolate contains a caffeine-like stimulant substance that when ingested by your pet can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, racing pulse and seizures. Also, the fat content in chocolate can wreak havoc with a pet's pancreas.
- Needless to say, any sort of alcoholic beverage is dangerous for pets. And it doesn't take more than a tiny bit to bring on vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, breathing difficulties and coma.
- If dinner by candlelight is on the agenda for Valentine's Day, be sure to keep the flames well out of the reach of curious pets. And safely extinguish burning candles before you leave a room.
Here's wishing you and your loved one (on two legs or four), a warm, safe and wonderful Valentine's Day!