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Jack Russell Terrier with flowers. Valentine's day. 14 February

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re in search of the perfect gift for the love(s) of your life — let’s be honest, it’s our pets and we’re okay with it — we’ve got you covered!

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in 2020, 27% of consumers said they’d buy a Valentine’s Day gift for their furry loved ones. But while you might share chocolate with your human Valentine, your pets will need their own special treats to celebrate with you. Here’s everything you need to know to be a responsible pet parent on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day hazards to keep away from your pets

With so much love in the air, it’s also really important to be mindful of safety. Here are some common holiday-themed items to keep out of reach from your pets. 

Boxes of chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats because they’re unable to properly digest it. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous to pets because it contains the most theobromine, a toxin found in chocolate.

Xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener commonly found in things like candies, chewing gum, toothpaste, and even some peanut butter brands. While we don’t condone spoiling your pet with human candies, we do recommend reading the label on anything kept around the house that your pets can accidentally get into. Animals that consume xylitol can experience severe drops in blood sugar, which can lead to seizures and liver failure.

Roses. They’re beautiful, yes, but they can cause upset tummies and even bowel obstruction if ingested. There’s also a risk to your pets’ mouths and paws from the thorns.

Lilies. They’re commonly sold in Valentine’s Day bouquets, but some species of lilies are toxic to cats — the Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, and Asiatic lilies are the most dangerous. If you’re giving flowers to a cat owner, be sure to leave lilies out of the arrangement!

Wine or other alcohol. Nothing goes better with a good meal than a glass of wine, but problems can occur when a glass is left out for a pet to lap up. While the grapes in wine haven’t proven to be an issue for dogs, no one truly knows why grapes are toxic for them in the first place. All it takes is one to three grapes to cause a problem for some dogs, so there’s no need to risk it by giving them human wine. Plus, alcohol alone is unsafe for them.

Candles. Be careful of lighting candles around your dog or cat. They could accidentally stick a paw in the wax or knock it over, and no one wants to spend Valentine’s Day at the vet’s office or with the fire department!

Bags and wrapping. Gift wrap and trimmings can be very pretty, but they can also be a big temptation for curious dogs and cats who want to use them as a new toy. If swallowed, gift wrap and trimmings have the potential to become lodged in a pet’s intestinal tract, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal blockages that call for surgical removal.

Watch for signs of potential poisonings

Pet parents should watch for any signs of poisoning in their fur babies. These can include:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Shakes and chills
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Fever
  • Labored breathing
  • Lack of coordination, weakness, or difficulty standing
  • Confusion

🚨 If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic or poisonous substance, call ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

How to safely celebrate with your furry Valentine

Fortunately, there are lots of fun and safe ways to celebrate this holiday with your dog or cat. Here are a few ideas:

Dress them up in a festive collar or bandana — Find a Valentine’s Day-inspired collar for your dog or cat. If you have a senior dog or dog that normally wears bandanas, consider buying a holiday-themed one to make them feel extra spoiled.

Spend quality time with your pet — Sometimes the best gift we can give is some extra time and attention. Take your dog out for a long walk on their favorite trail or treat them to a game of fetch. For cats, play with their favorite toy inside and give them lots of cuddles.

Valentine’s Day treats just for your four-legged friend

Treat your pet (quite literally) this Valentine’s Day with some top-notch pet-safe holiday treats. Let’s just say, these aren’t your average dog bones or kitten kibbles.

Pet-safe chocolate — Yes, this exists

Chocolate seems to be the most popular gift on Valentine’s Day. While we don’t want to exclude our furry valentines from celebrating with us, chocolate is NOT safe for them. The good news is there’s a pet-safe alternative to chocolate and it’s called carob.

Carob is a natural plant that has a flavor like chocolate, though it’s sweeter than cocoa. It’s full of nutrients (including calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins) and even provides protein and fiber. It doesn’t contain caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, or other toxins to pets that are found in chocolate. People who have sensitivities or allergies to chocolate also eat carob as an alternative.

Pick up some carob-flavored dog biscuits for your pup to enjoy. But, make sure your dog doesn’t eat a large number of carob treats as this can lead to an upset stomach.

Pet wine and champagne — Bottoms up

It’s not drinking alone if your pet is home, right? Better yet, get your fur-friends a drink of their own this Valentine’s Day. For our feline friends, the Apollo Peak Cat Wine is a 100% organic liquid catnip designed to entice even the classiest of cats into playtime. For our dog-moms and dog-dads out there, give the dog wine a try.

While pups may not react to this dog wine as cats do to theirs (dogs don’t exactly have an equivalent to catnip), most dogs will exhibit a relaxed state of behavior. And who can beat the incredibly named bottles? Our personal favorites are the ZinfinTAIL and PURRsecco.

Pet ice cream — A tasty frozen treat

Your dog will love you because now they can enjoy REAL ice cream for dogs at home. Hoggin Dogs or Ben and Jerry’s Doggie Desserts are the perfect gifts for dog lovers and friends who have dogs and want to feed them a yummy treat, but with a celebratory twist.

DIY baked goods — Made with extra love

We enjoy home-baked goods, so why wouldn’t our pets? We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite pet-safe recipes online for you to try this Valentine’s Day.

Dog pretending to bake

Time to get your bake on!

5 Valentine’s Day gift ideas for dogs or cats

Show your fur-babies some extra love this Valentine’s Day with one of our favorite gifts below.

1. Donate to an animal shelter in your pet’s name

One way you can celebrate your pet this holiday is by donating to your local animal shelter in honor of your pet. This is certainly a great way to spread love to the whole pet community!

2. Fun toys and yummy treats

What pet doesn’t love playing with a new toy or enjoying a yummy treat? Here are our favorite picks for dogs and cats.

For pups:

  • Chewy Valentine’s goody box. A great all-in-one option to show your pup all the love.
  • A Valentine’s Day-themed plush toy. What’s better than a holiday-themed reason to give a new toy? We love these red heart and champagne bottle plushies.
  • Milk-Bone mini’s Valentine’s Day dog treats. Spoil your pup with all the “words of love” engraved on these adorable treats.
  • Claudia’s canine cuisine dog cookies. These dog cookies are cute, festive, and delicious! We think these deserve an Instagram-worthy picture with your pup.
  • Natural Dog Company products for an at-home spa day. Pamper your pooch with a little extra TLC! Our team recommends their moisturizing Paw Soother and soothing Sensitive Skin Shampoo.

For cats:

  • Chewy Valentine’s goody box. An all-in-one goody box that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day spoiling.
    Valentine hearts teaser and plush cat toy with catnip. What cat can resist this playful teaser toy?
  • This EXPAWLORER indoor kit. This is the perfect bundle for the holiday. The kit contains pink Valentine’s Day cat toys and a collar.
  • Valentine’s Day-themed mice toy with catnip. These red and white mice are a holiday-themed fan-favorite for any kitty!
  • Temptations cat treats. These shrimp-flavored treats are delicious, healthy, and a great way to show love to your pet

3. A name tag for their collar

Looking for a thoughtful and practical gift for your dog or cat? Opt for a new personalized name dog for their collar! By purchasing a new tag, you can make sure that your contact information is updated and their name is legible. Chewy has a lot of great options, like this colorful silicone dog or cat tag.

4. A comfy bed

Is your pet’s bed looking worn out? Treat them to a new bed! Here are our favorite chew-proof dog beds for canines of all sizes. For cats, this plush round bed will make them want to curl up and snooze.

5. Food and water bowls

These raised food and water bowls for cats are cute and simple. They’re made from pet-safe materials and are whisker-friendly! For your dog, this adjustable, elevated dog bowl set will make mealtime a breeze — and it’s elegant for you, the pet parent, to look at.

Cat sitting on pink paper

Are you thinking about gifting a pet to a loved one?

Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday to gift the unconditional love of a pet. And while it can be a wonderful idea, there are some things to take into consideration beforehand.

  • Only gift a pet to someone who has expressed interest. They must have the time and ability to care for a pet, both personally and financially.
  • Adopt from an animal shelter or rescue organization. Unless you’re willing to do the necessary research beforehand, avoid purchasing an animal from places where the source of the animal is unknown or untrusted, like puppy mills or breeders without credentials.
  • If the recipient is under the age of 12, make sure their parents know. First, the child’s parent or guardian should be on board with the idea. They should also be willing and able to assume care for the animal as well.
  • Make sure the recipient is responsible and ready for a pet. This includes understanding whether the recipient’s lifestyle and schedule are conducive to owning a pet. This is also helpful when considering whether a dog or cat is the appropriate pet for them as well.

Were you gifted a pet? Here’s what you need to know

If you received a new pet on Valentine’s day, here’s how to survive the first few weeks of pet parenthood.

  • Get the essentials. The Humane Society has a list of everything you’ll need whether this is your first pet or you’re an experienced parent.
  • Establish house rules. Everyone benefits from structure, routine, and consistency, and it’s super important to establish it as early as possible with your new pet. It makes for a much more loving relationship when you both know what to expect!
  • Housetraining or litter training. With dogs, it’s an absolute must to start potty training early. Dog parents also need to be very consistent and keep a schedule. For cats, you’ll need to train them on how to use the litter box. Here’s a great resource to get started on litter box training.
  • Estimate your budget. When thought out and planned properly, taking care of your pet doesn’t have to be a source of financial stress. We break down the true cost of keeping a dog or cat in our guides.

For more information on owning a new dog or cat, read our full guide on caring for your gifted pet.

Even with the best of planning, accidents can happen. If you feel your pet is having a medical emergency, contact your vet right away. 

Here are some other numbers to keep handy in your phone in case of a Valentine’s (or otherwise) emergency: