The 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.
• Grow catnip for your cats to nibble on as they please. You can also use wheat grass that you can buy from any pet store. It helps give cats something to chew on and spares your houseplants. That said, always 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.
• Love your pets by feeding them less. Between 40 and 70 percent of pets are obese.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.
• 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 and transplant them elsewhere to make sure they are out of the reach of pets.
• 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 such as 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.
• 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.
• 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.
If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.