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Pet care tips for Valentine’s Day & all year long

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 at 7:05 am in Cats, dogs, Pets, Pets & Poisons, Pets in Danger, Poison, Poisonous plants.

Jasmine the cat by Bogue

From time-to-time I get news releases sent to me that are filled with handy information that should be useful to pet owners and others. If you have a pet living with your family, I think you’ll find the information below to be very helpful. /Gary

Pet Poison Helpline has compiled a list of 14 ways pet owners can shower their pets with love and affection – not only on Valentine’s Day – but year round. From making sure pets stay fit, to keeping poisonous items out of reach, the following tips will ensure pets stay healthy and happy and will (hopefully) be around for many Valentine’s Days to come.


*** Grow catnip for your cats to nibble on as they please. You can also use “wheat grass” which pet owners can buy from any pet store. It helps give cats something to chew on and spares your houseplants. That said, still keep poisonous plants like Easter lilies out of the house, and make sure all new plants and bouquets brought into a household are non-toxic.

*** Splurge on “dog beer” as a gift for your dog-loving friends. Dog beer is a beef or chicken-based drink that is as enjoyable for your dog as it is a funny gift for the (two-legged) beer-drinker in your life. It is important to recognize that hops from home brewing are poisonous when ingested by dogs.

*** Forty to 70 percent of pets are obese – love your pets by feeding them less. Cutting back by roughly 10-25 percent of the current amount you are feeding is an easy way to start.

*** Give your guests treats to feed to your dog when they come over. This prevents them from feeding other foods which may be harmful such as grapes, raisins, chocolate, or sugar-free foods with xylitol.

Golden retriever puppy by AKC
golden ret.

*** If you have an indoor cat, make sure you only let them go outside supervised on a leash. It is also important to dig up all lilies and other poisonous plants out of your yard and transplant them elsewhere to make sure they are out of reach to pets.

*** Keep a list of toxic plants handy. That way, before buying a plant it is easy to quickly check and make sure it is not on a list of toxic plants. Pet Poison Helpline has lists here: and here:

*** Strive to keep dogs at a healthy weight by feeding them low-cal treats such as peas, non-buttered or salted popcorn, and green beans. Make sure to avoid poisonous common kitchen snacks like grapes, raisins, currants, uncooked bread dough and alcohol.

*** Even cats need exercise. Some cats love to chase laser pointers, others love catnip filled toys or anything attached to rope. However, it is important NOT to use toys that are potentially dangerous, like tinsel, Easter grass, or items made out of “stringy” material which could get easily caught within their digestive tracts if they chew on them.

*** When giving a bouquet of flowers to a friend who has cats, make sure the bouquet does not contain lilies or other harmful plants. It is perfectly acceptable to remind your florist that flowers such as Stargazer lilies are poisonous and should not be used in bouquets.

*** Make sure your pet sitter has emergency phone numbers to call and printed directions to the emergency vet and Pet Poison Helpline when you are away. Stress that you want them to call if there is an emergency and let your sitter know you will reimburse for any calls or fees.

*** Remember that dental care is important for pets too. Pet owners can brush their pet’s teeth with chicken flavored toothpaste every other day. This can actually reduce the number of dental cleanings done by the vet. Human toothpaste however should NOT be used as it contains fluoride which can be chronically toxic to pets.

*** For pets to stay healthy, understand the importance of preventive care. Make sure to schedule regular veterinary exams once or twice a year.

Newman the cat by Bogue

*** Cat owners should consider scooping out the litter box every day. Even though it is a dirty job, know that cats love a clean box and this extra step can help prevent unwanted accidents outside the litter box, or medical problems such as feline lower urinary tract disease.

*** Dog owners – on days when you are too busy to take your dog for a walk, consider doggy day care. Your dog will have fun and come home exhausted.  You won’t have to feel guilty about not being able to play with him that day. It is a win-win.

Another great tip for pet owners who love their pet is to get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.

Pet Poison Helpline is a service available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. Staff can provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species.

As a cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $35 per incident includes follow-up consultation for the duration of the poison case. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at

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