You’re probably getting ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special sweetie. But if you have pets at home, be careful — even the most innocent adornments and delicacies may pose a risk to your beloved cats and dogs.

“Flower and chocolate poisoning are the most common occurrences in the ER,” says Lindsay Renzullo DVM, assistant medical director at Bulger Veterinary Hospital in North Andover, Massachusetts. While this is true all year long, it’s especially true during holiday seasons.

As you wine and dine your Valentine, these romantic items may charm your date but could make your four-legged friends sick.

Roses are red, violets are safe

Many flowers, their leaves, pollen and stems are toxic and may even be lethal to cats and dogs, depending on how much they ingest. Some of the most common toxic plants to pets are tulips, azaleas, bird of paradise, aloe, begonias, baby's breath and amaryllis. But be especially careful around lilies. Even a tiny nibble of a lily plant is toxic to pets and may lead to the death of your cat.

Carefully choose the flower bouquets you buy and inspect the ones you get before placing them within your pet’s reach. “Keep flowers in areas that are safe according to your pets’ habits,” says Renzullo. If you aren’t sure if the plant is OK for your animal, lock it in a pet-free room until you find out and check this list from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Poison Control Center.

“Stick more towards roses,” suggests Renzullo. They are fairly safe if ingested in small amounts and thorns are removed.

Here is a list of common flowers that are safe for cats and dogs:

  • African daisy
  • African violet
  • Alyssum
  • Bachelors buttons
  • Celosia
  • Common Snapdragon
  • Easter Daisy
  • Orchids
  • Roses

Hide the sweets

You are so looking forward to tasting every chocolate truffle in that beautiful heart-shaped box. But make sure your pets don’t get to it first. Chocolate can be very toxic and even lethal to dogs and cats. The darker it is, the more dangerous, says Renzullo. “Baking chocolate is the worst.”

Xylitol, the sweetener found in many types of sugar-free candies and baked goods, is also toxic to pets and may cause liver failure. It’s especially dangerous when you use it for baking, says Renzullo. If your dog gets to your batch of cookies, he will ingest large quantities, “and that can be very bad.” So keep chocolate and candies out of reach, preferably in a cabinet.

Wrap it up

Some pets just love playing with strings and sparkly objects. If swallowed, they can cause obstruction of the digestive tract and other conditions and may require surgery. Dispose of ribbons, strings, tape, cellophane, balloons and any wrapping paper as soon as you open your presents.

Blow out the candles

You may be planning a candlelit dinner for Valentine’s Day. But candles generally attract the attention of pets, especially cats. They may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over.

Try adorning the room with battery-powered flameless candles instead. If you are adamant about having real candles for Valentine’s Day, make sure you have a sturdy candle holder, place the candles on a stable surface and put the candle out if you leave the room. Consider gluing the candle holder to the surface with museum glue, which is removable and won’t ruin your furniture.

Keep your filet mignon to yourself

As much as they may beg, don’t share your special dinner with your pets. “As a general rule, table scraps are not good for pets,” says Renzullo. Buy your pet’s favorite treats so they have something special to crunch.

Also, don’t leave your pet unattended near food or around alcoholic drinks, since alcohol can be harmful to pets.

In case of emergency

Call ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or rush your pet to the closest veterinary hospital If your he is not acting like himself or showing any of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

We love our pets, so let's keep our furry friends safe and not make them feel lovesick on this heart-shaped holiday.

Daniela Caride is a freelance writer who has four cats and two dogs. She blogs about being a pet parent at and founded a nonprofit called Phinney's Friends.