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The Ruff Report: Valentine's Day one of most poisonous times for pets

Candy and flowers may be enjoyable for people, but they can be killers if ingested by dogs and cats, making Valentine's Day one of the more poisonous days of the year for pets, according to animal welfare advocates.

Pet parents are being advised to be vigilant when it comes to keeping sweets out of reach of their companions, because chocolate is so toxic that it can kill even in small amounts and flowers also can be poisonous and damage internal organs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Chocolate (baker’s, semi sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to animals,” ASPCA veterinary toxicologist Steven Hansen states in a media release.

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Excessive ingestion of chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and thirst, abnormal heart rate and rhythm as well as hyperactivity and seizures, Dr. Hansen says.

The ASPCA also warns owners to keep dogs away from gum and candy, which often contain large amounts of the sweetener xylitol, which can be a toxic killer for pets. Ingestion can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar - resulting in depression, loss of coordination, seizures and liver failure.

Flowers should be kept out of reach, too, because they can pose danger for curious pets who may ingest them, Dr. Hansen said. “Animals are very good at sniffing out things they shouldn’t eat,” he said.

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A dog who eat plants may get an stomach upset, accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, Dr. Hansen said. Cat owners should be especially careful with lilies because they can be deadly if ingested.


The Ruff Report is a column that appears on, a blog written by Joseph A. Reppucci, a retired editor from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mr. Reppucci worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years. He is the author of the book, The Hunt of Her Life, a heartwarming story about his once-in-a-lifetime rescue dog. Find it on


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